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YORKSHIRE 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL 

JOURNAL 



VOLUME 78 2006 


/ 



©The Yorkshire Archaeological Society and Contributors, 2006 


Cover design by Tony Berry 


THE 

YORKSHIRE 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL 

JOURNAL 


A REVIEW 

OF HISTORY AND ARCHAEOLOGY IN THE COUNTY 
PUBLISHED UNDER THE DIRECTION 

OF THE 

YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 

EDITED BY EDWARD ROYLE AND JILL WILSON 


VOLUME 78 

FOR THE YEAR 
2006 


ISSN 0084-4276 


THE YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


PRINTED FOR THE SOCIETY BY 
SMITH SETTLE 


THE YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 

Claremont, 23 Clarendon Road, 

Founded LEEDS, LS29NZ Incorporated 

1863 Telephone (0113) 245 7910 1893 

http://www.yas.org.uk 

Patrons 

Sir Marcus Worsley, Bt. 

The Right Revd and Right Honourable Dr David Hope 

Lord Crathorn, Lord Lieut, of N. Yorkshire 

Dr Ingrid Mary Roscoe, FSA, Lord Lieut, of W. Yorkshire 

Officers and Council 2004-2005 
President 

R. A. Hall 


Honorary Vice-Presidents 

G.C.F. Forster R.M. Butler 

J. Taylor L. A. S. Butler 


Vice-Presidents 

R. Morris P.B. Davidson 

J. le Patourel 


P. V. Addyman 
S. Thomas 


Management Board 


Bray ford, P. 
Cruse, R. J. 
Edwards, M. 
Davidson, P. B. 
Forster, G C. F. 
Litton, P. 


Mawtus, M. 
Moorhouse, S. 
Scholey, M. 
Thomas, S. 
White, R.F. 
Wilson, P. R. 


Council 


Beaumont, H. ( Skipton ) 
Brayford, P. ( Beverley ) 

Cruse, R.J. ( Menston ) 
Edwards, M. ( Hebden Bridge ) 
Flear, D.M. (York) 

Habberjam, M. (Leeds) 
Hemingway, M.F. (Leeds) 
Kershaw, M.J. (Harrogate) 
King, A. (Settle) 

Manby, T.G (York) 

Mawtus, M. (Tunbridge Wells) 


Moorhouse, S. (Batley) 
Morton, M. (Leeds) 

Payne, D. (Leeds) 

Potten, S. (Droitwich Spa) 
Roberts, D. (Harrogate) 
Roberts, I.D. (Leeds) 
Scholey, M. (Leeds) 
Slatcher, W.N. (Rochdale) 
Thornes, J. (Wakefield) 
White, R.F. ( Northallerton ) 


All of the following are members of Council ex officio, postal address ‘Claremont’ 

Hon. Secretary: MJ. Heron 

Hon. Treasurer: J.M. Lucas 

Hon. Lectures Secretary: Vacancy 

Hon. Membership Secretary: J. Senior 

Hon Editors (Journal): E. Royle and J. Wilson 

Hon Series Editor: RR. Wilson 

Hon. Grants Officer: I.D. Roberts 

Senior Librarian and Archivist: R.L. Frost 

Hon. Secretaries or Representatives of Sections 
postal address ‘Claremont’ 

Record Series: C.C. Webb 
Parish Register Section: P.M. Litton 
Wakefield Court Rolls Section: K. Emsley 
Prehistory Research Section: R.J. Cruse 
Roman Antiquities Section: PR. Wilson 
Medieval Section: M. Edwards 
Local History Study Section: E. Pickles 
Industrial History Section: 

Family History & Population Studies Section: J. Butler 

Representative of Groups and Affiliated Societies 

Doncaster Group: A Steers 
East LeedsHistorical Society: D. Owens 
East Riding Arch. Research Trust:T. G Manby 
East Riding Archaeological Society: K. Dennett 
Forest of Galtres Society: R. Prestwich 
Great Ayton Community Archaeology Project: 

HarrogateArchaeological Society: A. Kirk 

Huddersfield & District Archaeological Society: E.A. Vickerman 

IngleboroughArchaeology Group: A. Batty 

Northallerton & District Local History Society: 

Olicana Historical Society: M.H. Long 

Pontefract & District Archaeological Society: E. Houlder 

Saddleworth Historical Society: 

Scarborough Archaeological & Historical Society: 

Sedbergh & District Historical Society: 

Skipton & Craven Historical Society: D. C. Grant 
Upper Wharf edale Field Society: H. Beaumont 
Wakefield Historical Society: 

Yorkshire Architectural & York Archaeological Society: R.M. Butler 
Yorkshire Vernacular Buildings Study Group: J. Quarmby 


CONTENTS OF VOLUME 78 


page 


ALL SAINTS CHURCH, BURYTHORPE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS 

1995 1 

M. R. Stephens 

A YORKSHIRE FORT AND ‘SMALL TOWN’: ROMAN MALTON AND 

NORTON REVIEWED 35 

Pete Wilson 

FLAXTON - THE LAYOUT OF THE ORIGINAL PLANNED SETTLEMENT 61 

David Bourne 

RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN THE DIOCESES OF RIPON 

AND WAKEFIELD 1991-2000 85 


Lawrence Butler 

APPENDIX A: WAKEFIELD CATHEDRAL 

Archaeological Investigations at Wakefield Cathedral 1974 - 1995 

By A.C. Swann and I. Roberts with a contribution by D. Tweddle 

APPENDIX B: LITTLE OUSEBURN 
APPENDIX C: GILLING WEST 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON, NORTH RIDING 111 

Rita Wood 

THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE 

NORTH RIDING OF YORKSHIRE 145 

Claire Cross 

‘THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS’: LIFE AND DEATH IN 

YORK CASTLE GAOL, 1705 - 1745 15 9 

Philip Woodfine 

DEATH BECOMES HER: THE MOURNING AND COMMEMORATION 
OF ELITE WOMEN IN YORKSHIRE, 1720-1860 177 

Ruth M. Larsen 

AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 197 

Peter Holmes 

CURRENTS OF ELECTORAL INDEPENDENCE: JAMES LOWTHER AND 
POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK, c.1865-1880 217 

Matthew Roberts 

NOTE - ST. CHAD’S CELL AT MEANWOOD, LEEDS 241 

Lawrence Butler 

OBITUARY 243 

BOOK REVIEWS 247 


NOTES ON CONTRIBUTORS TO VOLUME 78 


David Bourne is a retired land agent and surveyor with an interest in historical matters, 
who for over twenty years has lived in Flaxton. He contributed an earlier article on the 

village to YAJ74 (2002). 

Lawrence Butler was senior lecturer in medieval archaeology at Leeds and York 
universities. He has written extensively on medieval churches, abbeys, castles and 
memor ials in England and Wales, he now pursues an active retirement near Cambridge. 

Claire Cross taught history at the University of York from 1965 until 2000. Her books and 
articles on late-medieval and early-modern English history include an edition with N. Vickers 
of Monks, Friars and Nuns in Sixteenth Century Yorkshire, Yorkshire Archaeological Society 
Record Series CC (1995). 

Peter Holmes teaches at Hills Road Sixth Form College, Cambridge. He is a graduate in 
Modern History from the University of Oxford, a keen supporter of the Family History 
Section of the YAS, and has contributed three previous articles on Yorkshire history to the 
YAJ. 

Ruth M. Larsen is a lecturer in History at the University of Derby, and recently completed 
a PhD at the University of York in which she explored the lives of aristocratic women in the 
Yorkshire country house, 1685- 1858. Dr Larsen was part of the team that organised a series 
of exhibitions across seven country houses in Yorkshire in 2004 and she was editor of and 
contributor to Maids and Mistresses: Celebrating 300 years of Women in the Yorkshire 
Country House (York, Yorkshire Country House Partnership, 2004). She has also worked 
with Professor Edward Royle on a scholarly edition of the Clergy Visitation Returns of 
Archbishop Thomson’s primary visitation of the diocese of York in 1865, to be published 
by the Borthwick Institute, University of York. 

Ian Roberts is Principal Archaeologist with Archaeological Services WYAS. Ian is a Fel- 
low of the Society of Antiquaries. 

Matthew Roberts is a research fellow in history at Sheffield Hallam University. He works 
in the field of nineteenth and twentieth century British political and cultural history, and has 
particular interests in popular politics, urban history and gender history. His PhD thesis 
examined popular Conservatism in late-Victorian Leeds. He has published on popular 
Conservatism in Historical Research and has a forthcoming article in the Historical Journal. 
He is currently writing a book called Politics, Protest and the People in Urban Britain, 1832- 
1914 , for Palgrave. 

Mark Stephens is a Director of MAP Archaeological Consultancy Ltd based in Malton. 
He has worked in field archaeology since graduating in 1979 on all periods of sites, although 
he is especially interested in the medieval period and its pottery. 


Andy Swann is Design and Illustration Manager with Archaeological Services WYAS 

Pete Wilson undertook his PhD research on Roman and Native in Yorkshire and is Head 
of Research Policy (Roman Archaeology) for English Heritage. 

Rita Wood is continuing her research in English Romanesque sculpture. A field-worker 
for the Corpus of Romanesque Sculpture in Britain and Ireland , she is now working in the 
East Riding. 

Philip Woodfine is a Reader in History at the University of Huddersfield. His research 
interests lie in eighteenth century society and politics, and in naval history. He has written 
numerous articles on these subjects, for one of which he was awarded in 1998 the Julian 
Corbett Prize in Modern Naval History. He edited, with Professor Jeremy Black, The British 
Navy and the Use of Naval Power in the Eighteenth Century (Leicester University Press, 
1988), and wrote Britannia’s Glories: The Walpole Ministry and the 1739 War with Spain 
(Royal Historical Society, 1998). 


Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


1 


ALL SAINTS CHURCH, BURYTHORPE 
ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS 1995 


By M. R. Stephens 

with contributions by J. Carrott, H. Cool, J. Evans, A. Finney, S. Garside-Neville, 

P. Makey, T. G. Manby and P. Ware 


Archaeological investigations in advance of an extension of Burythorpe Churchyard and 
associated tree-planting revealed features demonstrating occupation from the late Iron Age, 
or early Roman period to the fourth century AD. The later Roman occupation incorporated 
structures with stone slab floors and, in a subsequent phase with stone-built walls. It is 
suggested that in the latest phase the site might represent a possible villa. The finds assemblage 
incorporates later Neolithic and Bronze Age lithics, late Iron Age and Roman ceramics, as 
well as Roman-period slag, tile and a possible tesserae. 


INTRODUCTION 

Archaeological excavations were undertaken by MAP Archaeological Consultancy Ltd in 
1995 on agricultural land to the east and south-east of All Saints Church, Burythorpe, North 
Yorkshire (SE 7895 6501 - Fig. 1), in advance of an extension to the church graveyard and 
tree-planting. 

All Saints Church is situated approximately 300 m to the west of the present village and 
within an area formerly known as The Park, which was associated with Burythorpe House. 
The church stands in isolation in an elevated position (at around 85 m A.O.D.), some 14 m 
higher than the village. The present church was built in 1858, but a print shows its forerunner 
to be a simple structure with fourteenth-century details to the windows and substantial 
buttresses on the western gable end. 

Attention was drawn to the site by Burythorpe residents Messrs. Smithson and Francis, 
who were concerned that possible archaeological remains could be destroyed by the extension 
to the graveyard and the proposed tree planting. The graveyard extension was given planning 
permission without any archaeological constraint due to there being insufficient information 
within the North Yorkshire Sites and Monument Record concerning archaeological remains 
in the vicinity of Burythorpe church to justify the imposition of any controls. 

A rapid surface appraisal of the site located a sufficient quantity of Romano-British pottery 
and struck flint to lead to an evaluation being carried out privately by MAP, with the support 
of Schenactady-Europe, who supplied the plant. Three trenches were excavated, which 
clearly showed the presence of cut features of Iron Age and Romano-British date. On the 
strength of this evidence English Heritage were approached for funding for an open-area 
excavation, and a grant was provided for that purpose. 

The site itself stands on soils of the Rivington 1 Association with an underlying geology of 
Carboniferous and Jurassic sandstone (Mackney et al 1983). 


2 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 



HISTORICAL AND ARCHAEOLOGICAL BACKGROUND 

The village of Burythorpe is recorded in Domesday as Berguetorp or Bergetor. The most 
likely meaning of the name is ’hill village’ (Smith 1937). In 1086 the Domesday survey 
recorded that two carucates of land were owned by the King, three carucates by Berenger de 


BURYTHORPE 


3 



a 

v 

u 

a 

0 ) 


bO 


2. Interventions in the Burythorp 


4 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


Tosny and another three by Robert de Brus. Between 1180 and 1190 the church at 
Burythorpe, along with one bovate of land and all rights of patronage was gifted by Geoffrey 
Nobil of Burythorpe to Kirkham Abbey In 1246 the first rector of Burythorpe church is 
recorded as Robert de Kirkham. 

There is a reference in the history of the life of William Peckitt, a glass painter, to a severe 
fire at Burythorpe c. 1630, which has led to the suggestion that the village was subsequently 
re-located away from the church to its present position. 

Current records show no crop or soil marks within the immediate area of the site. The 
nearest concentration is c. 500m to the north-west, with the villa complex (SAM NY1094 - 
Fig. 2) to the south of Kennythorpe sandworks and the settlement further to the west (Finney 
1989). 

Fieldwalking over the villa complex in 1990/1 produced pottery of prehistoric to post- 
medieval date (MAP 1991 a). The earliest material was from the Late Bronze/Early Iron Age, 
with a sizeable assemblage of flint tools and debitage. Roman pottery ranged in date from the 
late first century to the fourth centuiy AD; apart from seven samian and twenty-one Black 
Burnished sherds it was of local manufacture, and mainly of Norton and Crambeck Wares. 

In 1990 excavations on land to the west of Kennythorpe sandworks (SE 78220 6565- Site 
AI - Fig. 3) located and sampled a complete enclosure, plus parts of three others, a number of 
boundary ditches and three pit complexes (MAP 1990). Excavation indicated that this 
particular site at the foot of the Wolds was intensively occupied during the mid-late Bronze 
Age, with the largest domestic assemblage of Beaker pottery to come from a domestic context 
in Eastern Yorkshire showing occupation in the early Bronze Age. A geophysical survey 
(Payne 1991) revealed further enclosures and trackways between the sand quarry and the 
villa complex. 

In 1994 further sample excavation was undertaken at the sand quarry (Fig. 2), revealing 
pits which yielded charcoal, carbonised grain, burnt bone and a Late Bronze Age pottery 
assemblage in three different fabric types (Manby 1994). 

These sites indicate that a rich archaeological landscape exists in the vicinity of Burythorpe 
church, with sites dating from the prehistoric into the Roman period. This potential led to 
the appraisal and evaluation excavation of the church site in February 1995 (Fig. 4). 

In evaluation Trench 1 intercutting features were revealed, the latest of which (context 7) 
was c. 0.5 m square and lined with vertical stones. Within the fill (context 3) was a complete 
pottery vessel (context 4), which along with other sherds indicated a Romano-British date. 
The greater part of Trench 2 was taken up by a large feature aligned east to west (context 17), 
which contained calcite-gritted sherds. Within Trench 3 were two linear features (contexts 
12 and 14) on a rough north to south alignment, the westernmost of which (context 12) was 
c. 3.5 m wide, suggesting that it was either a broad ditch or a trackway. Context 14 was c. 2m 
wide ditch. The eastern part of the trench also had the indications of a ditch (context 15). 

AIMS AND OBJECTIVES 

The evaluation of the site had thus located features of the Romano-British period, with a 
suggestion of earlier activity. The threat to the archaeological remains could only be resolved 
by rapid ‘rescue’ excavation as planning permission had already been granted for the 


BURYTHORPE 


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3. Overall site pla 


6 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 



. 4. Plans of the trial trenches. 


BURYTHORPE 


7 


extension to the graveyard. The excavation was seen as an opportunity to define the nature 
of activity at the site and to record the processes of change from the Iron Age to the Roman 
period. With these objectives in mind excavation commenced in April 1995. 

EXCAVATION METHODS 

Topsoil was removed by a 360° excavator using a broad toothless blade under close 
archaeological supervision. Excavation was thereafter by hand. The deposits were recorded 
by individual context, and a full series of drawn plans and sections was compiled along with 
a photographic record in monochrome and colour. 

EXCAVATION RESULTS (Fig. 5) 

The site was covered by a deposit of modern ploughsoil, which contained a flint side 
scraper (SF 1) and a ceramic spindle-whorl (SF 2). 

The removal of the modern ploughsoil revealed a number of features of varying form and 
date. In the west of the site a number of slab surfaces with associated features were identified. 
A large negative feature, probably a quarry (context 144), was present at the north-west of 
the site, with further negative features to the south-west. 

PHASE 1 
Ditch 105 

Ditch 105 was the earliest of the excavated features, running across the central area of the 
site, with another ditch (context 12 from the evaluation) running southwards from it at 
right-angles (Fig. 6). A segment excavated to examine the junction of the two ditches showed 
them to be contemporary, and to have contiguous fills. The basal fill was a thick deposit of 
sandy silt (context 134), with subsequent, more stony fills (contexts 126 and 1 17 - the latter 
containing a flint scraper) having apparently entered the ditch from the eastern side; these 
may represent bank material. Context 116 filled the top of the ditch on its western and 
northern sides. 

Pottery recovered from the fills consisted of calcite-gritted ware, and Norton and Crambeck 
greywares, suggesting the ditches had a late Iron Age to third-century AD date. 

A possible recut (context 1 10 - Fig. 6) cut into context 1 16, entering from the south before 
turning at right-angles and running eastwards along the top of Ditch 105. 

Structures 1-4 

Phasing of these structures is hampered by the lack of stratigraphy between the separate 
structural elements; this was a particular difficulty when considering the relationship between 
the two slab surfaces (contexts 188 and 155), which formed Structures 1 and 2 (designated 
Phase 2). These surfaces have been included under the same activity phase due to their 
similarity of form. Surface 188 was the earliest structure excavated at the site as it was cut 
through by a later linear feature (context 186), which itself was overlain by the wall of a later 
building (Structure 3 - context 189). 

A cleaning spit (context 106) excavated over this part of the site contained a seventh- or 
eighth-century copper-alloy pin with a zoomorphic head (SF 23 - Fig. 16.2), and a flint knife 
fragment, along with samian, and Norton and Crambeck greyware sherds. 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


8 



5a: Phase 1 



5b: Phase 2 




Fig. 5. Phase plans 


BURYTHORPE 


9 




Fig. 6. Plan and sections of ditch 105. 



10 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 



Fig. 7. Plan of Structures 1 and 2. 


BURYTHORPE 


11 


PHASE 2 
Structure 1 

Structure 1 consisted of irregular, flat, fine-grained limestone slabs, which were keyed 
together to form a roughly flat and continuous surface (context 188 - Fig. 7) measuring 3.5 
m north to south and 7 m east to west. The slabs were generally around 0.5 m in size, though 
the largest was 0.96 m, and the smallest 0.16 m in length. 

Structure 2 

Structure 2 was represented by another slab surface (context 155 - Fig. 7), and was situated 

6 m to the south of Structure 1. It measured at least 4.4 m north to south and 2.2 m east to 
west. The western edge of the slabs was parallel to wall 176/156, and it was bounded by a 
linear cut (context 162 - Figs. 7 and 8). Excavation of this showed it to have vertical edges 
with a fill of stony, silty sand (context 154). This feature was probably a robbing trench - the 
irregular, undulating base and edges were suggestive of a feature from which stone had been 
dug out, and the fill did not include any stone of useable size. It would therefore seem that 
the slab surface would represent the internal floor of a building whose walls had been 
robbed. The date for this ‘robber trench’ was probably third century, indicated by the 
presence of Norton greyware sherds. There was also a Dressel 20 amphora sherd complete 
with graffito (Fig.16.7). 

A number of deposits (contexts 167, 182, 170 and 199) and a posthole (context 181 - Figs. 

7 and 8) were identified at the same horizon as the two slab surfaces. Contexts 167 and 182 
were 2-3m south of Structure 1 and were silty sands with associated fourth-century Crambeck 
greyware sherds. Context 199, located immediately west of Structure 1 was a silty sand with 
patches of clay and ash. These deposits had the appearance of ‘occupation’ material, though 
it is unclear to what extent they were directly associated with Structures 1 and 2. Context 
170 (Fig. 7), a hard-packed surface of limestone and sandstone pebbles situated between the 
two structures was interpreted as an exterior yard surface. 

The posthole (context 181 Figs. 7 and 8) was oval in plan and cut into 182, and was clearly 
earlier than a north to south wall (context 156). There were two depressions in the base, 
divided by a thin neck, suggesting that this feature had been ‘double’. The silty sand fill 
(context 169) contained a number of calcite-gritted sherds of indeterminate date. 

PHASE 3 

Surface 188 was cut through at its south-east corner by a slightly sinuous linear feature aligned 
south-west to north-east (context 186 - Figs. 7 and 8). The fill (context 150), a sandy silt, contained 
many fragments of jumbled angular limestone, along with amphora, Norton greyware and calcite- 
gritted sherds, and a headless bone pin or spoon handle (SF 42). The feature continued beneath 
the later wall (context 156), where the fill was recorded as context 168. Context 171, a rubbly 
deposit west of wall 156, would appear to have been a continuation of 150. 

Cut 186 was interpreted as a robber trench because of its vertical edges and flat base - a 
ditch would have been of different profile. The fill suggested jumbled debris from wall- 
robbing rather than the slower, more even in-filling associated with a ditch. The putative 
wall did not appear to be directly associated with slab surface 155 as the two features were 
on different alignments. The implication is that there was a separate constructional phase 


12 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 




N 8008m 



80.71m 

~r 


80.51m 

t r 


Fig. 8. a-c) Plan and sections of robber trench 162; d) Sections of wall 156 and post-hole 181; 
e & f) Sections of robber trench 186 


BURYTHORPE 


13 


between the use of the slab surfaces and the later stone-walled building (Structure 3). 

PHASE 4 
Structure 3 

Structure 3 consisted of walls 156, 176 and 189 (Fig. 9). Wall 156, aligned approximately 
north to south, consisted of a single course, one block wide, of roughly hewn distinctive 
greyish green limestone, with the squared face to the east. There was no sign of a construction 
trench for the wall. To the north, plough damage obscured wall 156's relationship to slab 
surface 188, but a line of displaced blocks within the plough-disturbed material (context 
102) make it almost certain that 156 continued northwards over the slabs to return at 90° as 
wall 189. Wall 189 was of similar build, and continued c. 5 m westwards to the limit of the 
excavation, where there were indications that it had begun to return southwards. 

The line of wall 156 was continued to the south by wall 176. At 0.75 m, this wall was wider 
than 156 and consisted of two rough faces of oolitic limestone with an angular limestone 
core, clearly making the two walls of different construction. A 0.5 m wide gap existed 
between 156 and 176, terminating in a squared face c. 0.45 m south of the end of wall 156. 
This could represent a narrow entrance, and the sub-rectangular rebate to the most southerly 
stone of wall 156 could possibly be the position of a door-post. 

Only a relatively small area of the interior of the building was examined. A single floor 
surface, represented by a 0.03 m deep deposit of fine sandy mortar (context 157 - Fig. 9), was 
identified; this did not butt up to the western face of wall 156, but left a 0.4 m wide gap. This 
gap between the mortar and the wall did not represent a foundation or robber trench, as the 
deposit below (context 165, a rubbly, silty sand) extended underneath the floor up to the wall 
face. Context 165 can be seen as a bedding-layer for floor 157. 

Two postholes (contexts 193 and 195 - Fig. 9) have been assigned to the same period as 
Structure 3. Posthole 193, situated in the north-west corner of the building, was roughly 
circular and had an oolitic limestone packing in a matrix of silty sand (context 193). Posthole 
195 was oval in plan and cut through surface 188, with a U-shaped profile and a sandy loam 
fill (context 194). 

A whole series of deposits dating later than the use of Structure 3 were identified: contexts 
153, 174, 175, 177, 190 and 191 were located within the building, and context 166 outside. 
All of these deposits are likely to relate to either the demolition or collapse of the structure. 
Associated pottery -calcite-gritted, Crambeck and Norton greywares - ranged in date from 
the second to fourth centuries. 

Overlying the entire area of Structures 1, 2 and 3 was a mixed rubbly sandy silt (context 
102), which represented plough disturbance of the underlying archaeological deposits. Finds 
from this horizon included a second-century iron spearhead (SF 5 - Fig. 16.1), a rim/body 
fragment of a late Roman glass bowl (SF 38), a flint flake (SF 1 ) and a worked bone object (SF 
39). 

Structure 4 

Structure 4 (Fig. 10), located c. 8 m to the north of Structure 3, had been badly plough- 
truncated, but traces of mortar flooring (context 111) and wall foundations (context 143) 
remained. 


14 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 



Fig. 9. Plan of Structure 3 



BURYTHORPE 


15 



Fig. 10. a) Plan of Structure 4 (with burial 197); b & c) Profiles of wall 148; 
d & e) Section and plan of pit 147. 


16 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


The foundations existed in a small area at the north-west end of the mortar flooring. The 
exact dimensions of the building represented are uncertain due to the fragmentary nature of 
the remains, but to judge by the remnants of flooring and foundations, it was at least 3 m 
wide and 9 m in length, aligned north-west to south-east. 

The foundations consisted of a single course of angular oolitic limestone blocks (context 
143), carefully laid and keyed together, placed in a shallow vertically-edged foundation trench 
(context 145). A thin deposit of clean, compact clay (context 142) had been laid directly on 
top of the rubble foundation, presumably to provide a flat surface for the setting of dressed 
stone walling or a sill beam. 

The mortar flooring (context 111 - Fig. 10), a 0.02 m thick deposit of gritty mortar which 
contained tegula and Roman brick fragments, lapped over context 142, and continued 
south-east from Foundation 143 as a linear band 6 m long and 1.8 m wide; this apparently 
represents the surviving remains of a formerly much more extensive surface which was 
preserved where it had sagged in to the top of Ditch 105. Traces of foundation material were 
also recorded on the northern edge of this mortar floor. 

An infant grave (context 197 - Fig. 10) cut into the mortar surface to the south of foundation 
143. The skeleton was a neonatal baby, laid on its back, with the head end to the south-east. 
Only some vertebrae and ribs remained in situ, the skull, arms, legs, feet and hands were 
absent, apparently having been removed by the plough. 

Pit 147 

A small, rectangular, vertically-side feature with a stone lining, Pit 147 (Fig. 10) was located 
at the south-eastern end of mortar surface 111. The southern and eastern sides of the pit 
were walled with flat mortared limestones, which survived to a maximum of five courses in 
height. The lowest fill of the pit was a yellowish brown sandy silt (context 146), and neither 
this, the upper fill (context 140) nor the sides of the pit showed any signs of having been 
subjected to heat. The lack of in situ burning discounts the possibility that the pit was a kiln 
or ‘corn-drier’. Along with the mortar surface it was probably related in some way to the 
largely destroyed building, Structure 4, to the north-west. 

Oven 141 

A large shallow, irregularly-sided pit (context 125 - Fig. 11) measuring 10 m x 4m x 0.4m 
was located at the north-eastern part of the site. Located within this feature, context 141 
consisted of two roughly-tooled, fire-blackened limestone blocks measuring 0.55 m x 0.2m 
x 0.2m in size and laid end to end. Two slabs of limestone were set on end at right-angles to 
each other slightly to the north. Identical pieces and fragments of worked limestone, along 
with box-flue tile and //72Z?/*exrfragments, occurred within context 127, the fill of the greater 
part of the pit. This structure represented the demolished remains of an oven or kiln. 

A deposit of silty sand with significant amounts of charcoal and ash (context 133) lapped 
up to both sides of the oven. Further deposits (contexts 124, 133 and 149) were overlain by 
context 127, which contained animal bone and large quantities of pottery including Norton 
greyware and a Crambeck painted platter, giving a later fourth-century date. 

A slab surface (context 132) overlay the northern margin of context 124, and occupied the 
area above the demolished oven. The surface consisted of five large slabs (average size 
0.70m x 0.60m x 0.10m) plus a number of smaller slabs, together forming an uneven surface. 


BURYTHORPE 


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Fig. 11. Plans and sections of pits 125 and 108. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


It is uncertain whether this was part of a structure similar to Structures 1 and 2, or if these 
slabs were intended to cover over the pit. 

Pit 108 

Pit 108 measured 5m x 3m in size, and was situated c. 2m south of Oven 141. The pit cut 
into the natural degraded sandstone bedrock to a depth of 0.30m. The fill (context 107) 
contained animal bone, two flint flakes, Roman brick fragments and later fourth-century 
calcite-gritted sherds. The function of the pit is uncertain; an initial impression that it was 
a Grubenhausyjas not confirmed by the presence of postholes at the centre of its shortest 
sides, or of stakeholes along the edges, elements that are usually associated with such features. 
The pit may therefore have been a ‘working hollow’. 

An oval posthole (context 131 - Fig. 1 1 ) was situated on the northern edge of the pit. The 
distinct clay fill (context 130) contained a number of Dressel 20 amphora and calcite-gritted 
sherds, along with a flint flake and a core. 

Gully 119 

This was a short gully situated to the west of oven 141, running for a length of 5 m on an 
east-south-east to west-north-west alignment (Fig. 12). It was filled by stony, silty sands 
(contexts 122 and 124), the former containing a cylindrical whetstone (SF 52 - Fig. 17.5), 
Crambeck greyware sherds and the rim of a blue/ green glass bottle of first- to third-century 
date (SF 51 - Fig. 16. 6). 

Quarry 144 

Excavation located this substantial feature at the north-west of the site (Fig. 12), but it was 
only possible to examine a small area, showing it to be at least 1 m deep and over 25 m x 7.5 
m in size. The lobed and serrated appearance of the feature’s edges suggested a face that had 
been quarried rather than a naturally weathered surface. Excavation indicated that after the 
quarry was initially abandoned, it silted up naturally, indicated by contexts 128, 136, 137 
and 139. Associated greyware and calcite-gritted pottery gave a third/fourth-century date 
for the silting process. Context 128 also contained a fragment of Roman brick, and 139 a 
crested flint flake. 

Subsequently, part of the northern lobe of the quarry had a closely-packed limestone 
gravel surface (context 135 - Fig. 12) laid within it, the rounded appearance of the stones 
suggesting considerable wear and use. The gravel surface was sealed by deposits 129 and 
103 which contained samian, calcite-gritted ware, Norton and Crambeck greywares and 
Crambeck painted mortaria giving a fourth-century date; context 103 also contained a 
possible tessera fragment along with Roman brick and a tegula, and a mid fourth-century 
coin of Constantius II (SF 20). A deposit of colluvium (context 101) overlay 103, which 
contained a plain copper alloy ring (SF 18 - Fig. 16.3), and a pewter ‘spectacle’-shaped shoe 
buckle of fifteenth- to sixteenth-century date (SF 27 - Fig. 16.4). Modern topsoil (100) 
overlay the colluvial deposit, and contained a spindle whorl fashioned from a greyware 
sherd (SF 1 - Fig. 16.8). 

Features 164 > 179 and 187 

These three intercutting features were revealed in a 2 m square box (Figs. 3 and 13) 
excavated in the area adjacent to Evaluation Trenches 1 and 2. 


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12. a) Plan of gully 119, stone surface 135 and quarry 144; b & c) Sections of gully 119. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


The earliest feature was context 187, but as only the northern edge was present in the 
excavated trench its form remains unsure. The fill of 187 (context 180) was cut away by cut 
179 to the north-west. This feature had three fills (contexts 172, 173 and 178); Crambeck 
greyware sherds from context 173 provided a fourth-century date. 

Context 164 was a linear feature with a north-west to south-east alignment that cut into the 
south-eastern part of 187. Vertically-edged the feature had two 0.20 m deep depressions in 
the base, c. 0.8 m apart. The fill (context 163) around these depressions contained a number 
of vertical slabs, probably the remains of post-packing. Interpretation is hampered by the 
small-scale of the excavation here, but given the apparent presence of posts within it, it is 
likely that this feature was a fence or palisade, dateable to the later fourth century by associated 
Crambeck greyware and parchment ware sherds. 

The upper fills of these features were covered by a 0.2 m deep deposit of dark silty sand (context 
152), which contained a Roman slide lock bolt (SF 40), and a flint bladelet and a flint scraper. 

Ditch 113 

The latest feature encountered on the site was a west to east ditch (cut 1 13 - Figs. 6 and 13) 
excavated in two 1 m wide segments (contexts 115 and 159/185). 

Cut 115 was excavated near the southern baulk of the excavation, south of the junction in 
Ditch 105. The fill (context 114) was a silty material containing a number of samian sherds, 
and a flint scraper. 

The southernmost segment of Ditch 113 was located immediately to the north of slab 
surface 188, and was more complex in that a recut was present. The earliest ditch (context 
185 - Fig. 13) had an irregular V-shaped profile, whose silty basal fill (context 184) was 
overlain by a mottled clay (context 151), which lapped over Surface 188 to the south. The 
mottled clay deposit was cut away by a ditch (context 159 - Fig. 13) on the same alignment as 
185, whose fills (contexts 183 and 158) contained indeterminate calcite-gritted sherds. 

The upper fill of Ditch 113 (excavated as contexts 1 14 and 158) was a distinct dark sandy 
silt, the humic texture of which suggested that it was a relatively recent feature, perhaps a 
medieval or post-medieval field ditch. 

SUMMARY 

The interpretation of the site is hampered by two factors. Firstly, it is apparent that much 
of the site has been damaged by the plough, a long-term process judging by the presence of 
the probable medieval field ditch (context 113). Secondly, it is clear that the excavated area 
is only part of a greater whole: features extend eastwards out of the site, and Structure 3 
continues into the present graveyard to the west. The presence of structures within the 
present graveyard is confirmed by the fact that slab surfaces similar to Structures 1 and 2 
have been observed during grave digging. 

The earliest activity at the site is represented by the flint assemblage, which is consistent 
with regional assemblages of the later Neolithic and Bronze Age, with at least two pieces (a 
scraper and a double-edged knife) having Beaker associations. 

The site was first occupied in the late Iron Age, when a large ditch was dug (context 105) 
(Phase 1). It is unclear whether the ditch was simply a field boundary, or if it had a more 
protective or defensive function. 


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Fig. 13. a-c) Plan and sections of gully 164, pit 179 and feature 179; 
d & e) Section and plan of ditch 133, segments 159 and 185. 


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Later, two structures with slab floors were built (Phase 2), with a subsequent constructional 
phase involving buildings with stone walls (Phase 4). The most substantial, or at least best 
preserved, of these buildings was constructed of imported limestone and measured in excess 
of 12 m in length and 6 m in width. This building had several phases of construction and 
overlay one of the earlier slab floors. The other building had the same alignment and was 
associated with a mortar floor, which overlay the early ditch. 

To the north of the buildings lay an oven, and a number of pits and gullies. A large hollow 
at the north-west of the site is regarded as a quarry of Roman date. 

The earliest pottery from the assemblage consisted of hard-fired sherds of simple jar forms 
characteristic of the late first millennium BC, whose tradition carried on into the Romano- 
British calcite tempered fabrics. Later pottery from the site was predominantly from the 
nearby production centres of Crambeck and Norton, and was of third- to fourth-century date. 
Ceramic building materials including brick, roofing tile, box-flue tile and a possible tessera 
suggest a building of some pretension in the locality of the site, further hints of higher status 
occupation are provided by the presence of samian and amphorae within the pottery assemblage. 

Other dating evidence was provided by eight coins recovered by metal-detecting, only one 
of which was recovered from a recognised feature (SF 20 dated to AD 355-60 from the area 
of the quariy). They were predominantly of fourth-century AD date, with only a single worn 
third-century example (SF 11, c. AD 268-73). The coins were thus contemporary with the 
Phase 4 stone buildings 

It is apparent that a range of craft and industrial activities were undertaken at the site. 
The presence of a spindle whorl indicates that spinning was carried out. The hearth or 
oven, along with quantities of slag found adjacent to it, shows that metal-working, or ore- 
roasting, was a local activity. The position of the oven, down from the prevailing wind and 
away from the buildings, shows that consideration was given to distancing living areas from 
any unpleasant fumes or dangerous sparks from it. If the large feature at the north-west of 
the site was indeed a quarry, it must have been a significant element of the early phases of the 
site. All of these activities suggest a degree of economic self-sufficiency, though perhaps not 
enough to prove that the site was independent of a larger estate, and was perhaps linked to 
the Burythorpe sandworks villa. 

Interpretation of the environmental evidence for the site was hindered by the small size 
and fragmentary nature of the animal bone assemblage. However, the animal bone shows a 
general lack of wild species, with the domestic types showing a preponderance of sheep/goat 
over cattle and pig. Horse and dog were also recorded. Environmental sampling was largely 
unproductive, with only a very few identifiable charred seeds being present. 

Despite the inherent problems with essentially key-hole archaeology, this excavation 
provided information on a hitherto unknown site of late prehistoric and Roman date. The 
excavations achieved their main objective of defining a substantial ditch, which appeared to 
enclose a land unit on which the present All Saints Church stands. In addition, there was 
conclusive evidence of stone-built structures in use in the fourth century AD, which, based 
on associated artefacts, were of fairly high status. How this settlement relates to the more 
general picture of settlement and land use in broader geographical terms is considered in the 
Discussion below. 


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PREHISTORIC POTTERY 

ByT. G. Manby 

CHARACTER OF ASSEMBLAGE 

An assemblage of 248 sherds, generally unweathered and showing sharp fractures to 
sherds was examined. Only one complete profile of a small globular jar was present from 
context 126. The majority of the excavated pieces come from large jars, predominantly of a 
weak barrel-shaped profile with thick developed rim form with a rim diameter of between 
22-35 cm. Medium jars, with a rim diameter of between 15-20 cm, are the second most 
numerous form. Small jars were the least numerous; although the fine ware sherds did come 
from vessels of a small size, but their shapes are unknown. 

The largest group from context 191 had a proportion of medium ware with a hard, smooth 
compact exterior for both large and medium jar forms. There is also a very small quantity of 
hard dark grey fine ware wall fragments, some with exterior burnish, but otherwise without 
features. 

Decoration was confined to the incised diagonal strokes on the lip of a small jar form 
contexts 117 and 126. 

Fabric 

The assemblage was characterised by hard fabrics, which showed a laminated structure in 
wall section with hard-fired surfaces generally dark grey with lighter tones; a minority sow 
reduced orange exteriors or interiors. All had dark grey cores. Tempering showed a pro- 
fuse use of crushed angular calcite >7 mm long, often protruding through the surfaces, 
where its crystalline character has broken down from the high firing temperature. Surface 
pitting left by the solution of calcite occurred but not as a common feature. A varying 
admixture of fine sand also occurred, sometimes in the form of quartz crystals. 

ASSOCIATIONS 

1. The ditch (context 105) provided a stratigraphic sequence: 

Primary fill (context 134): only a very small group with one jar rim of very distinctive type. 
Secondary fill (context 126): small group with decorated jar. 

Upper fill (context 117). 

Top fill (contexts 104 and 109). 

2. Links provided between contexts were: 

(a) contexts 104 and 128 by pieces of the same distinctive rim type. 

(b) contexts 117 and 126 have the same decorated jar. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


Summaiy 


Context 

104 

109 

116 

117 

126 

134 

137 

191 

Sherds 

45 

30 

6 

55 

7 

28 

2 

75 

Weight gm. 

1660 

560 

125 

565 

330 

260 

45 

2140 

Large jars 

7 

3 

1 

1 

2 

1 


9 

Medium jars 

1 

1 


1 


1 


1 

Small jars 

1 



16 

1 



2 

No. vessels 

9+ 

4 

1 

3 

3 

2 


17 


COMPARISONS AND DATE 


In fabric and form many of the Buiythorpe vessel forms and rim types have good parallels 
amongst the handmade wares of the ‘early fortlet’ at the Langton villa site (Corder and Kirk 
1932, 30-33) and the ‘lake dwelling’ at Costa Beck (Hull 1930; Hayes 1988, 30-32). The 
assemblage belongs to a tradition of hard-fired pottery of simple basic jar forms that in 
eastern Yorkshire can be assigned to the later centuries of the first millennium BC, and 
continues to include Romano-British Knapton and Huntcliff calcite-tempered fabrics. Many 
of these late Iron Age assemblages across eastern and central Yorkshire have recently been 
summarised by Evans (1995). Artefactual associations that would provide reliable dating 
horizons for these assemblages are singularly scarce and the application of scientific 
determinations to their dating is needed. This would be especially significant for the 
Burythorpe church site where there is a stratigraphic separation between context groups 


CATALOGUE (Figs. 14 and 15) 

104.1 Large jar, incurving with out-turned rim, folded down inside lip. Calcite and fine sand 
tempering. Brown surfaces with darker toning; dark grey core. Slip flaking off inside. 27 cm 
rim diam., wall thickness 1.3 cm. 

104.2 Rim with deep internal bevel. Dark grey interior, orange exterior. Dark grey core. 
Calcite tempering <0.6 cm. Similar to context 126.2. 23 cm rim diam. 

104.3. Rim of large jar. Hard dark grey surfaces. Calcite tempering <0.7 cm (Evans Wl). 

104.4. Rim of large jar. Hard dark grey surfaces. Medium fabric; sparse calcite and sand. 

104.5. Thick rim of a large jar. External bevelled lip. Brown surfaces. (Evans Mill). 

104.6. Thick rim of large jar. Calcite <0.3 cm. (Evans Mill). 

104.7. Medium jar rim. External bevel. Pitted, softer fabric. Calcite temper <0.3 cm. Wall 
thickness 1 cm. 

104.8. Thick rim of large jar. Dark grey. Wall thickness 1.8 cm. 

104.9. Rim sherd of small jar. Dark grey. Wall thickness 0.5 cm. 

109.1. Large jar. Thick, incurved profile; recessed bevel, folded down inside. 

109.2. Large jar. Externally bevelled rim; internal groove. 

109.3. Large jar. Externally bevelled rim with overhanging lip. Dark grey fabric. 


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Fig. 14. Iron Age Pottery. 


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Fig. 15. Roman pottery. 


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109.4. Simple upright rim with flattened lip. Brown exterior, dark grey interior. Calcite 
tempered; pitted. (Evans LI). 

116.1. Large jar. Out-turned rim with thick lip and crude internal bevel. Dark grey, brown- 
toned exterior; orange interior. Wall thickness 1.5 cm. 

117.2. Large jar. External bevel. Hard dark grey laminated fabric. 

117.3. Small rim with everted rounded lip. Dark grey. Calcite tempering <0.2 cm. 

126.1. Small jar. Complete profile and 2 base fragments. 8.5-9 cm high. 1 1 cm diam. Rim; 9 
cm base. Dark grey with brown toning on lip. Faint diagonal strokes on lip. 

126.2. Large jar with deep bevelled rim. Dark grey exterior, orange interior. Dark grey 
core. Similar rim in identical fabric (109.2). 

126.3. Large jar, Thick exterior bevel. Dark grey exterior, light grey interior. 

134.2. Damaged small sherd of an upright rim. Calcite tempering. 

191.1 Large jar rim. Broad externally bevelled lip, 2 facets on the interior. Brown toned 
exterior, dark grey interior and core. Very hard medium fabric with calcite grit <0.4 cm. 
Wall thickness 0.8-1 cm. (Evans El). 

191.2 Large jar rim. Broad expanded rim. Medium, very hard laminated fabric. Dark grey 
exterior, orange interior. Wall thickness 1.1 cm. 

191.3 Two joining sherds of a large jar with external bevelled lip. Dark grey hard laminated 
fabric. Calcite grit <0.4 cm. (Evans El). 

191.4 Large jar rim. Dark grey laminated fabric. Calcite grit <0.4 cm. Wall thickness 1.3 cm. 

191.5 Rim of large jar. Hard dark grey fabric. Calcite <0.2 cm. (Evans El). 

191.6 Rim of large jar. Wall thickness 1 cm. (Evans El). 

191.7 Rim of large jar. Wall thickness 1 cm. 

191.8 Rim of large jar. Wall thickness 1 cm. 

191.9 Small jar with everted lip. Hard dark grey fabric; calcite <0.6 cm. Carbon layer on 
interior. 

191.10 Medium jar with everted lip. Hard dark grey medium fabric. Wall thickness 1-1.1 cm. 
(Evans J 11). 

191.11 Small jar with simple lip. Carbon layer inside lip. Medium sand tempered fabric. 
Wall thickness 0.6 cm. (Evans HI). 

191.12 Small sherd of a large jar rim. Medium fabric with brown exterior and dark grey 
interior. 


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ROMAN POTTERY 

ByV. A. Ware 
INTRODUCTION 

The excavation at Burythorpe church has given a valuable opportunity to examine the 
Roman pottery from a rural site, an area grossly under-represented in Roman pottery studies. 

THE POTTERY 

It may be reasonable to suggest that occupation continued to the fifth century AD, but 
dated contexts predominantly belong to the late fourth century AD. The coin collection 
also suggests a late fourth-century AD date, therefore backing the pottery evidence. 

The report on the Iron Age potteiy (see above) appears to indicate pre-Roman occupation 
of site: the problem arises whether the site evolved gradually and became Romanised or if 
there was a break in occupation. There is little in the pottery to confirm this, or whether at 
some point in the second century AD the site was abandoned and then re-established in the 
late third/fourth centuiy AD. No definite conclusions can as yet be drawn from the Romano- 
British pottery and neither option can be dismissed. 

The bulk of the potteiy comes from the two nearby kiln production centres of Norton and 
Crambeck. Context 175 has a Malton reeded rim bowl (Fig. 15.175) of Flavian/Trajanic date 
and obviously associated with military production. The role of the military market and how 
it affected pottery production is evident from the Burythorpe pottery. The rapid development 
of military influence on pottery supply in the region is suggested by the appearance of this 
type of material on what appears to be a non-military site. 

Context 137 has an example of Malton mortaria. Thirty per cent of the greyware forms 
are from the Norton-based potteries. The majority of the other pottery is from the Crambeck 
kilns located only 5 km away. Context 154 contains several forms in redware. Parchment 
ware is found in several contexts including context 138 with a star decoration in the base 
(form E012, Fig. 15.138) and assigned to the late fourth century AD, and another painted 
platter from context 127 (Fig. 15.127.2). A Crambeck greyware bowl with incised wavy line 
decoration on the inside was found in context 127 (Fig.15. 127.1). 

Several unusual forms are represented; in particular from context 127, a complete profile 
of a cup (Fig. 15.127.3) is especially important, as is the colour-coated Crambeck sherd from 
context 106). The Burythorpe collection conforms with Evans’ statement that ‘on no site 
examined by the author has the quantity of Crambeck finewares exceeded that of the greyware’ 
(Evans 1989). 

The appearance of the Dressel 20 amphorae on the site, in contexts 154 and 167, tends to 
suggest that the site had some higher status occupation as such pottery is not often found on 
rural sites (Evans pers. comm.). An example of Dressel 20 from context 154 had an exterior 
incised graffito (Fig. 16.7). 

Samian consisted of plain and decorated forms. No East Gaulish samian was present and 
only one sherd with a stamp (SF 3: Fig. 16.9) could be assigned to a specific workshop 
(Oswald 231), suggesting a lack in the supply of samian to the site in the second and third 
centuries. 


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■ — ■ — 

HIVOSUM 

9 

0 1cm 

1 » 


« 1 * — 



0 5cm 

» j 


Fig. 16. Small finds 


30 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


DISCUSSION 

The area of the Burythorpe church site excavated in 1995 showed that the first occupation 
phase, represented by Ditch 105, was dateable to the late Iron Age or early Roman period. 
The relatively large amounts of occupation debris in the ditch fills suggested that settlement 
of the same date lay close by. It is therefore possible to draw a parallel between the site and 
villa sites such as Rudston (Stead 1980), Langton (Corder and Kirk 1932) and Beadlam (Neal 
1996) where settlement of Iron Age/‘native Roman’ type was superseded by the construction 
of Roman buildings, presumably as the descendants of the Iron Age inhabitants became 
more Romanised and able to afford a more comfortable life-style. 

The Burythorpe church site lies close to a complex of prehistoric enclosures, situated to 
the west of Burythorpe sandworks, c. 900 m to the north-west (Fig. 2). Sample excavations 
at this site have been mentioned above. How the church site relates to this settlement is as 
yet unclear. There is a chronological gap between the two sites as no mid-late Iron Age 
material was found at the quarry, whereas it was present at the church. The presence of a 
separate complex of rectilinear cropmarks situated c. 700 m north-west of the church and to 
the east of the quarry site may provide the link. This series of cropmarks are believed to 
represent a villa (SAM NY 1094). Fieldwalking of the site in 1990/ 1 (MAP 1991 a) indicated 
occupation from the late first to the fourth century AD. As mentioned above, Beadlam and 
Rudston villas showed early Iron Age settlement on the villa sites, and it is reasonable to 
suppose that Iron Age occupation preceded the Roman at the quarry site, just as it did at 
Burythorpe church. In either case, there would seem to have been an eastward shift in 
settlement during the Iron Age, perhaps in favour of the higher ground and defensible 
position of the church site. 

How the sandworks ‘villa’ site and the church site relate to each other is as yet unclear. 
The ‘villa’ would have been clearly visible from the church site and one assumes that there 
must have been some interaction. Both sites appear on available evidence to have been 
occupied in the fourth century, and judging by quantities of building stone recovered during 
fieldwalking at the sandworks ‘villa’, both had stone buildings. 

There is a tradition of structures in east and north-east Yorkshire, some way below villas 
in status, that employed slab floors in their construction. A number of such structures have 
been identified in Norton; a fourth-century example at Eastfields had an associated limestone 
wall (Hayes 1988). Excavation within the vicus at Malton located fragmentary slab floors 
within a building of third/fourth-century date (MAP 1991b). An amorphous area of slab 
paving associated with a timber slot rather than stone walls, and of second- to fourth-century 
date was found at Pale End, Kildale (Hayes 1966), and another paved structure of this type 
was excavated at Elmswell (Corder 1940). This tradition would not appear to merely reflect 
the availability of local building stone as the sites lay on widely different geologies, with shale 
and mudstone at Pale End, glaciofluvial drift at Norton, limestone at Malton and chalk at 
Elmswell. 

The early slab surfaces (Structures 1 and 2) at Burythorpe church would apparently belong 
to the slab floor tradition. What dating evidence there is suggests that Structures 1 and 2 
were demolished in the third century, to enable the building of Structure 3. Structure 3, and 
the similarly aligned Structure 4, clearly marked a change and improvement in construction 
methods, but does this mean that the Burythorpe church site should be included in the 


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32 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


group of high status sites within the orbit of Malton? 

At least one villa has been investigated in Langton parish c. 3 km to the north-east of 
Burythorpe church (Colder and Kirk 1932) (Fig. 17). Another two villas are known in 
Wharram parish, c. 4.5km further to the north-east (Rahtz et al., 1986; Hayfield 1987 - Fig. 
17). There are two poorly recorded villas in Huttons Ambo parish at Musley Bank and 
Roughborough Farm (Kitson Clark 1935, 111, 123), 7 km to the north-west of Burythorpe 
(Fig. 17). All these villas, along with Beadlam and Hovingham, situated further to the north- 
west, are assumed to be in the hinterland of the Roman fort and civilian centre of Malton/ 
Norton. 

If it is right to suggest that villas occur in pairs, such as the Langton villas (Ramm 1988), 
and those at Wharram Grange/Wharram-le-Street, and Musley Bank/Roughborough Farm, 
suggests that it may be legitimate to pair the Burythorpe church site to the Burythorpe 
sandworks villa. Structure 3 at Burythorpe church was of some pretension, with at least 
some of its walls utilising fine-grained imported limestone rather than the coarser limestones 
and sandstones that were immediately to hand. The ceramic building material included 
box-flue tiles, brick and roofing tile, which again points to a relatively high status building, 
with a tiled roof and a hypocaust. A possible tessera fragment hints at the presence of a 
mosaic floor. Although the inhabitants of the Burythorpe church site therefore had many of 
the trappings of comfortable living, there is a lack of evidence for painted wall plaster and 
proven mosaic flooring which would both be anticipated at a villa site. Plough damage may 
partly account for these gaps in evidence, but it also remains a distinct possibility that 
another high status building forming an addition to the identified complex awaits discovery 
in the immediate vicinity of the excavation. 

Ultimately, questions regarding the status of the Burythorpe church site and how it relates 
to the sandworks villa, plus how both sites relate to the known prehistoric settlement, can 
only be answered by further fieldwork at the site itself, and within the landscape in which it 
lies. The discoveiy of a previously unsuspected and significant multi-period site at Burythorpe 
church is an indication of the richness of the archaeological landscape and the extent to 
which it would repay further research. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

MAP Archaeological Constancy Ltd would like to thank Messrs J. Smithson and F. Francis for 
drawing our attention to the site and the potential threat to it, as well as their support and 
encouragement. We would also like to thank Schenactady-Europe for providing plant. Thanks are 
also due to Mr D. Boak, the landowner, for altering the crop and tree-planting programme in order 
to allow more time for excavation work. The churchwardens, Lieutenant-General Sir Rollo Pain 
and Brigadier R. St. C. Preston, kindly allowed additional time for the excavation of the area of the 
churchyard extension. 

Thanks are also due to the late A. L. Pacitto for responding quickly to a request to undertake a 
metal-detecting survey so as to protect the site from unwelcome attention, and to Dr J. Evans and 
T. G. Manby for their thoughts on the pottery assemblage. 

The Environmental Archaeology Unit of the University of York provided advice on an 
environmental sampling programme and undertook an assessment of the biological remains and 
animal bone. The metal objects and small finds were assessed by the conservation laboratory of 
York Archaeological Trust and Dr Hilary Cool, flint objects were assessed by Peter Makey, and the 


BURYTHORPE 


33 


ceramic building material was assessed by Sandra Garside-Neville of Brick and Tile Services, York. 
The coins were kindly identified by Craig Barclay of the Yorkshire Museum, York. 

Thanks go to Adrian Bailey, Mike Holdsworth, David Hunter, Mark Johnson, Nick Machin, 
Brian Milner and Paula Ware who all worked on the site. Kelly Hunter prepared Figures 1-13 & 17; 
the principal author drew Figures 14-16. 

Finally, MAP would like to thank English Heritage for funding this programme of work, and Pete 
Wilson for encouragement and support. 

BIBLIOGRAPHY 

Corder, P. 1940 Excavations at Elmswell, East Yorkshire, 1938 ’ Hull: Hull Museum Publication 207 

— , and Kirk, J.L. 1932 A Roman Villa at Langton, near Malton, East Yorkshire, Leeds: Roman 
Malton and District Report 4 

Evans, J. 1989, in P. Wilson (ed) Crambeck Roman Pottery Industry, Leeds, 43-90 

— , 1995 ‘Reflecting on Later Iron Age and ‘Native’ Roman-British Pottery in Northern England’, in 
B. Vyner (ed.) Moorland Monuments: Studies in the Archaeology of North-East Yorkshire in Honour of 
Raymond Hayes and Don Spratt. Council for British Archaeology Research Report 101, 46-48 

Finney, A. E. 1989 Burythorpe Quarry - Archaeological Sample Excavations, East Riding 
Archaeological Research Committee unpublished typescript report 

Hayes, R. H. 1966 ‘A Romano-British site at Pale End, Kildale’, YA J 41, 687-700 

— , 1988 North-east Yorkshire Studies: Archaeological Papers, Leeds 

Hayfield, C. 1987 An Archaeological Survey of the Parish ofWharram Percy, East Yorkshire. 1: The 
Evolution of the Roman Landscape. British Archaeological Reports British Series 172 

Hull, M. R. 1930 ‘The Pottery’, in M. K. Clark, ‘Iron Age Sites in the Vale of Pickering’, YAJ 30, 
158-72 

Kitson Clark, M. 1935 A Gazetteer of Roman Remains in East Yorkshire, Leeds: Roman Malton 
and District Report 5 

Mackney, D. et al. 1983 Soils of England and Wales. Sheet 1: Northern England, Harpenden 

Manby, T. G. 1994 Burythorpe, Later Bronze Age Pottery. Unpublished archive report MAP 1990 
Kennythorpe sandworks, unpublished typescript report 

— , 1991 a Fieldwalking Evaluation at a Roman Villa Site - SAM 1094, Burythorpe, North Yorkshire, 
unpublished typescript report 

— , 1991b Orchard Fields - Derventio; the 1992 Excavations 

Neal, D. S. 1996 Excavations on the Roman Villa at Beadlam, Yorkshire, Yorkshire Archaeological 
Report 2, Leeds 

Payne, A.W. 1991 Burythorpe Sand Quarry, North Yorkshire: A Report on Geophysical Surveys 
1988. Ancient Monuments Laboratory Reports Series 117/91 

Rahtz, P., Hayfield, C., and Bateman, J. 1986 Two Roman Villas at Wharram Le Street. York: York 
University Archaeological Publications 2 

Ramm, H. G. 1988 ‘Aspects of the Roman Countryside in East Yorkshire’, in J. Price and P. Wilson 
(eds), Recent Research in Roman Yorkshire: Studies in honour of Mary Kitson Clark (Mrs Dermas 
Chitty). British Archaeological Reports British Series 193, 81-88 

Smith, A. H. (ed.) 1937 The Place-names of the East Riding of Yorkshire and York. 

Stead, I. M. 1980 Rudston Roman Villa, Leeds 

This report is published with the aid of a grant from English Heritage. 































































































Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


35 


A YORKSHIRE FORT AND ‘SMALL TOWN’: 
ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON REVIEWED 


^vPete Wilson 


The evidence for Roman-period military and civilian occupation at Malton/Norton is 
reviewed, including data from PPG-16 interventions. The extent and character of the civilian 
settlement is considered, along with the burial evidence and that for craft and industry It is 
suggested that the civilian settlements may have extended to some 22 ha, although in Norton 
it was inter-mixed with industrial and burial activity The garrisons of the fort are discussed 
and the possibility of a Germanic garrison from the later third century proposed. The 
identification of the settlement with the Delgovicia of the Antonine Itinerary is preferred 
(after Creighton 1998) and it is suggested that the settlement should be considered a 1 small 
town ’ rather than simply a vicus tied economically to the fort. 


INTRODUCTION (Fig. 1) 

The military aspects of Malton/Norton are established in the archaeological literature, largely 
through the work of Philip Corder and J. L. Kirk in the 1920s on the site of the auxiliary fort 
in Orchard Field (Corder 1930), but the civilian components are less well known. In 1971 
Professor John Wacher discussed Malton/Norton alongside Aldborough, Brough-on-Flumber 
and Catterick in his paper ‘Yorkshire towns in the fourth century’, albeit concluding that in 
the later fourth century the civilian community occupied the area of the fort alongside a much- 
reduced military garrison (Wacher 1971). Sommer (1984, 20-1) discusses the civilian site as a 
vicus, initially focussed on an annexe that also contained baths and a mansio. 

Given that background it is perhaps not surprising that Malton/Norton was not included in 
the classic study of the subject of Roman ‘small towns’: The \ Small Towns’ of Roman Britain 
(Burnham and Wacher 1990). The authors articulate the difficulties of their subject matter - 
conflicting terminologies, subjective criteria, and the limitations of the archaeological evi- 
dence, as well the problems inherent in previous approaches that have relied on the provision 
of defences, relationship to the communications network, or evidence of dependence on trade 
as indicators of urban status (Burnham and Wacher 1990, 1). Their solution was to ‘include a 
wide range of sites which have at one time or another been called small towns, even though, for 
some there is likely to be little agreement among archaeologists’ (Burnham and Wacher 1990, 
1-2). Despite the casting of a wide net Malton/Norton was not included, perhaps reflecting the 
paucity of published data at the time. In developing this paper the author has had the benefit 
of access to unpublished data from recent excavations and recording and through the incorpo- 
ration of that data this paper seeks to re-examine the nature of the civilian component of the 
settlement. As presented it represents an expansion and development of ideas that were sum- 
marised in a paper in Professor John Wacher’s Festschrift (Wilson 2003). 


36 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 



Built-up 
X :: x 0-50m 
mmm 5040Gm 
100450m 
15O-2O0m 
2tiO»25Qm 

3kffi 


Figure 1. The location of Malton/Norton. 



ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


37 


THE EVIDENCE 

Malton/Norton has benefited from the observations of antiquarians and archaeologists 
over many years. Modern researchers are fortunate to have these disparate records of discov- 
eries during building work and similar destructive interventions summarised in Kitson Clark’s 
Gazetteer of Roman Remains in Yorkshire (Kitson Clark 1935, 19-20, 99-108, 113-18) and the 
relevant sections of The Archaeology of Malton and Norton (Robinson 1978, 5-10, 24-29, 34- 
40), the latter also serving to review the data available to Kitson Clark. 

The Fort 

The military history of the site has been considered a number of times (Corder and Kirk 
1928; Corder 1930; Wenham 1974, 11-35) and was summarised by Wenham and Heywood 
(1997, 36). In the latter publication data from the 1968-70 excavations previously suggested by 
Wenham (1974, 9) as evidence of a camp dating to the time of Bolanus or Cerialis, is shown to 
be somewhat later, although the possibility of Cerialian occupation remains (Wenham and 
Heywood 1997, 36). The ‘early rampart’ found in 1968-70 is now known to be Trajanic and the 
wooden buildings suggested as contemporary with it (Wenham 1974, 9), Antonine. Otherwise 
the military history of the site is fairly well understood in outline, and even one of the garrisons 
is known, the Ala Picentiana (Wright and Hassall 1971, 290; Wenham and Heywood 1997, pi. 
3). This unit was probably in residence in the Antonine period from the style of the inscrip- 
tion. Its arrival may have coincided with the reoccupation of the fort after AD 158, from which 
time it appears to have been garrisoned until the end of the Roman period. What is to be 
disputed is the claim that the later fourth-century garrison was the Numerus Supervenientium 
Petueriensium (Wenham 1974, 34; Wenham and Heywood 1997, 38). This suggestion derives 
from the belief that Malton/Norton is mentioned in the Notitia Dignitatum as Derventio 
(Rivet and Smith 1979, 333-34), a view questioned by Creighton (1988), whose arguments this 
author finds persuasive ( con tra Wenham and Heywood 1997, 1 fn. 1). Creighton suggests that 
the Yorkshire Derventio is Stamford Bridge and that Malton/Norton is Delgovicia as re- 
corded in the Antonine Itinerary. If Creighton’s argument is accepted the Numerus 
Supervenientium Petueriensium would be stationed at Papcastle in Cumbria, which was also 
known as Derventio (Rivet and Smith 1979, 334). In support of Creighton’s suggestion it is 
perhaps worth noting the increasing body of data relating to Roman occupation at Stamford 
Bridge (Esmonde Cleary 1995, 345; 1997, 417; Lawton 1994; 1997; 1999; 2003; 2005; NAA 
2004, 38-39; Ramm 1955; 1966; 1978, 31-34). 

Our understanding of the military sequences at Malton, based on Corder’s work on the 
defences and reassessment since, may be summarised as follows: 

• A shallow military ditch was recorded by Wenham on a north-west to south-east line, with a 
rampart on its northern side. These features appear to represent an otherwise unknown camp of 
uncertain date, although Wenham and Heywood ( 1997, 5) assign it to the ‘last quarter of the 1st 
century’ (their Period la). Quantities of earlier pottery, including Vespasianic and early Flavian 
samian residual in later contexts, nevertheless support the possibility of Cerialian occupation. 

• The first authenticated phase of permanent military occupation is represented by an 
Agricolan fort in turf and timber, the internal arrangements of which are unknown. The most 
intensively investigated area of the defences is the north-east gate, which at this time was a twin 
portal structure. It is possible that the replacement of the defences in stone was commenced 


38 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


fairly rapidly, but it was not completed at this time. 

• In the Trajanic period the fort defences were rebuilt in stone, with new ditches being cut 
further out from the walls and the north-east gate rebuilt as a single-portal structure. At this 
time an annexe may have been constructed (Wenham and Heywood 1997, 36). 

• It appears that the fort at Malton fits the model for abandonment in the Hadrianic period 
suggested for many forts in the north of Britain (Frere 1987, 114). However the excavator 
suggests at one point that ‘it seems unlikely that Malton was fully garrisoned’ at this time 
(Corder 1930, 66), implying the possibility of continuing military occupation of some type. 
That having been said, in discussing the north-east gate Corder (1930, 46) refers to a period of 
abandonment. However the pottery evidence from the fort as a whole is suggested as strongly 
supporting re-occupation in the late 150’s (Hartley 1971, 62, 67 fn. 54). In any event, in the later 
second century, or early in the third century, the Trajanic north-east gate was refurbished with 
the size of the fort being maintained, suggesting the same type of garrison and perhaps func- 
tion. For this period there is evidence of contemporary internal wooden buildings in the 
retentura (Corder 1930, 66, fig. 31). 

• During the late third or early fourth century, the north-east gate was again rebuilt, largely 
in reused material. On the basis of the quantity of coins of Carausius and Allectus, over 5% of 
the total found, Mattingly (1930, 1 14) suggests ‘a revival of activity ... under their rule’, to which 
this refurbishment might belong. Alternatively the work might fit a Constantinian context. 

• Also possibly of this period is the well-known deposit of burnt grain, apparently destroyed 
because it had become insect-infested while in store (Buckland 1982). Bidwell and Croom 
(1997, 102) have refined the dating of this deposit noting that ‘the presence of BB1 or BB1 
imitation flanged bowls shows that ... [it can be] ... dated no earlier than the second half, and 
probably the last quarter, of the 3rd century’. However, as Buckland (1982, 55) has noted, it 
could be as late as AD 350. 

• During the fourth century and post-dating the burnt grain deposit, there is evidence for 
well-built stone buildings within the fort, including an apsidal building cut into the back of the 
north-eastern rampart. There were further modifications to the north-east gate, including its 
partial blocking with earth and timber, the fort wall is described as ruined at the time (Corder 
1930, fig. 11). From this period there are 29 infant burials from within the area of the fort. 

• Corder argued for a further phase of rebuilding within the fort coupled with the replace- 
ment of the north guard chamber of the north-east gate in the late fourth century, his Period 6 
(AD 370-395). It is possible that his start date for this period should be revised to c. AD 350/ 
55 to reflect the modified dating of later East Yorkshire ceramics, notably Crambeck parch- 
ment ware and Huntcliff-type proposed by Hird (1997, 248), although this revised dating has 
recently be challenged by Bidwell (1996) and is possible that the start date of c. AD 370 should 
stand. However it appears likely that Corder’s terminal date of AD 395 for this phase is too 
early and dictated by a wish to have a final phase to accommodate the ‘wall ditch’ (see below) 
within the Roman period. 

• Corder had a final fort phase dating to AD 395-400 (his Period 7) when ‘no surviving part 
of the masonry of any of the previous gates can have been visible’ (Corder 1930, 51). The 
defence at this time was a ditch that he saw as originating in his Period 6, which he called the 
‘wall-ditch’ as it was cut into the foundation of the fort wall, leaving space for a wall 2ft [0.6m] 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


39 


wide on the old footing. There seems to be little justification for an assumption of such rapid 
decay of the fort defences, nor for Corder’s dating of this feature, and a date in the fifth century, 
or possibly later must be considered. 

The Civilian Settlement 

The report on the 1968-1970 excavations in Orchard Field to the south-east of the fort 
(Wenham and Heywood 1997) is crucial to any understanding of the civilian component of 
Malton/Norton in the Roman period, particularly when considered with that on the excava- 
tions of 1949-52 undertaken some 50 m north of the 1968-70 site by the Rev. D. Smith 
(Mitchelson 1964). As noted above the site has also benefited from a number of other consid- 
erations, including that by Professor Wacher (1971, 174-76). He describes the civilian settle- 
ment as a vicus into the fourth century, but suggests that during the late fourth century the 
civilian population ‘gradually ... [took] over the fort, so that it must have ended its life more like 
a walled town’ (Wacher 1971, 176). 

The history of the non-fort areas of Roman Malton/Norton is not easily summarised. The 
use of the term ‘non-fort’ is deliberate as Wenham and Heywood convincingly demonstrate the 
existence of an annexe, and/or a defended vicus , of two phases attached to the fort in the 
Trajanic period. Annexes are common in association with early Roman forts, providing se- 
cure accommodation for supplies in transit and securing facilities located outside the fort 
defences such as the military bath house. Certain, or possible examples are known in York- 
shire at: Catterick (Wilson 2002a 119; 2002b, fig. 419) Catterick (Wilson 2002a 119; 2002b, 
fig. 419); Doncaster (Buckland and Magilton 1986), Greta Bridge (Olivier 1987, 118; although 
Casey and Hoffman (1998) make no mention of defences), Ilkley (Salway 1965, 41; although 
Hartley (1987) makes no mention of defences), and Slack (Manby 1967). The ascription of the 
Malton annexe/ vicus defences to Sommer’s Group 1 ‘small annexe attached to half the side of 
the fort’ (Sommer 1984, 18) by Heywood and Wenham (1997, 36) suggests that the layout of the 
earliest military phases of Malton may have been broadly similar to that at Catterick, where an 
annexe containing the military bath house was attached to the northern part of the eastern 
rampart (Wilson 2002b, 453-54). As was probably the case at Catterick, Wenham and Heywood 
suggest that the existence of an annexe does not preclude the development of a contemporary 
wms/Wenham and Heywood 1997, 36). However, following Sommer, they also make the valid 
point that the distinction between an annexe and vicus at this date appears less than clear cut 
and without more evidence from Malton we cannot be certain what use this defended enclo- 
sure was put to. 

In 1978, when Robinson produced his volume, the evidence for civilian occupation on the 
Malton side of the river was concentrated in the area outside the south-east gate (the porta 
praetoria ), between the fort and the river, with more limited evidence of occupation deriving 
from the area outside the porta principalis sinistra on the north-eastern side of the fort. In 
addition Old Malton had produced a handful of finds (Robinson 1978, 24 nos. 40-43). On the 
Norton side he was able to plot a large number of antiquarian finds, the results of more recent 
excavations and the recording of casual discoveries. A large part of the more recent work has 
involved the recording of the Norton Roman pottery industry and related activity (Hayes and 
Whitley 1950; Hayes 1988, 66-89). 


40 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 




Orchard Field 


Fort 


Line of Trajanic 
vicus defences ^ 

V 


Late Roman/sub-Roman 
ditch and rampart 


— Recorded 
elements of 
vicus defences 


Ditches 
L>Xy Walls 
Z.’Z Roads 


50m 


Figure 2. Plan showing Roman-period civilian buildings in the Orchard Field area (after Robinson 
1978, fig. 6b and Wenham and Heywood 1997, fig. 1) 


MALTON 

By the time of Robinson’s survey some 20 buildings had been recorded in the Orchard Field 
area, largely focused on the line of two roads that converge immediately south of the porta 
praetoria . Our knowledge of the civilian settlement in this area (Fig. 2) can be summarised as 
follows (after Heywood, in Wenham and Heywood 1997, 36-38): 

• Possible evidence of a Flavian vicus , or possibly early military activity, overlain in part at 
least by the Trajanic annexe/ vicus defences. 

• Timber buildings dating to the period AD 79-108 in the area of the 1949-52 excavations 
located outside the area of the two phases of Trajanic annexe defence, although these build- 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


41 


ings could be military and might belong to a Cerialian phase. 

• Hadrianic/Antonine period. Buildings constructed over annexe defences; some of tim- 
ber, others of wattle and daub on stone sill-walls. 

• Third century. At least one of the buildings in the area of the 1949-52 excavations re- 
mained in use (Mitchelson 1964, Building G). There was new construction to the south in the 
area of the 1968-70 excavations (Buildings I, V and T IV - Wenham and Heywood 1997). 
Further to the east the area was largely used for dumping although new vicus defences were 
provided in the form of a rampart and wall accompanied by two ditches, running south-east 
from the eastern corner of the fort. 

• There was major rebuilding within the vicus in the early fourth century. Wenham and 
Heywood connect this with the rebuilding evidenced in the fort at this time (Wenham and 
Heywood 1997, 37). To this phase can be ascribed the ‘Town House’ with its mosaic (Mitchelson 
1964, pi. ix; Neal and Cosh 344-46) and painted plaster (Davey and Ling 1981, 145-46; Smith 
2000), and other buildings from the 1949-52 work including the Kiln Building and Building Y 
(Mitchelson 1964, 223-29, 231). In the area of the 1968-70 excavations at least five new 
masonry buildings were ascribed to this period (Buildings III, IV, VI-VIII), and are suggested 
as possibly representing ‘a 4th-century mansio ... with a linked if not contiguous bath-house’ 
(Wenham and Heywood 1997, 38); 

• Refurbishment of structures after demolition/destruction, including the Town House 
and Buildings VI and VII/VIII, post-AD 350 demonstrates the continuation of occupation 
into the latter part of the fourth century. In addition there are at least two structures to which 
Wenham and Heywood ascribe a post-AD 350 date; the ‘rough rectangular stone hut’ overly- 
ing the Kiln Building from the 1949-52 excavations and Building II from the later work 
(Wenham and Heywood 1997, 38). 

• In the latter part of the fourth century Building II was substantially rebuilt and a forge 
inserted in Building I. 

• A defensive ditch and rampart facing north-east was cut across the Town House and Kiln 
Building, excluding Buildings IV and VI-VIII from the defended area. Following Wenham 
(1974, 33) Heywood suggests that it ‘can hardly be earlier than the fifth century and might well 
belong to the sub-Roman period’ (Wenham and Heywood 1997, 38). 

More recent work has produced much new data that is yet to be fully published. New 
information has been added for areas that are relatively well known, for example the vicusi n 
Orchard Field where first-century post-holes and stone buildings of second- to fourth-century 
date have been found (MAP 1993, 32-34). South-west of Orchard Field test-holes on Sheepfoot 
Hill revealed evidence of third-century timber buildings and fourth-century stone structures 
(Finney 1990-91). However the major fact that emerges from a review of the data currently 
available is that there is an intensity of occupation apparent in areas other than those recog- 
nised at the time of Robinson’s survey. To the areas noted by Robinson need to be added Old 
Maltongate outside the north-west gate (or porta decumana) of the fort (MAP 1998a); St 
Leonard’s Churchyard west of the fort (YAT 1992); Malton New Rugby Club, some 400 m 
from the north-east gate of the fort (Stephens and Ware 1995, 12-14); Sheepfoot Hill/King’s 
Mill (Finney 1990-91; MAP undated) and the area of Castle Howard Road where Roman 
period boundary features have been noted (Stephens 1992a; 1992b; MAP 1996). 


42 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


N 1 



Figure 3. Malton/Norton showing major sites and finds spots referred to in the text. 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


43 


What is not clear from most of these small-scale interventions is the character and extent of 
the deposits encountered, although in the case of Malton New Rugby Club we can be more 
certain. There top-soiling in advance of the construction of the pitches led to the discovery by 
machine of three very well-preserved limestone built buildings of second- to third-century date 
(Stephens and Ware 1995, 12-14). These structures suggest strongly the existence of extensive 
ribbon development extending north-east from the fort, possibly linking with the occupation 
in the area of Old Malton and that immediately east of the railway noted by Robinson (above 
and Fig. 3). Similarly work in St Leonard’s Churchyard has produced Roman period stone- 
built structures of third- and fourth-century date with evidence of painted plaster amongst the 
demolition debris (YAT 1992). This latter find extends, what is probably evidence of civilian 
occupation, into what was previously regarded as an unoccupied area. 

NORTON 

The evidence from the Norton side of the river largely consists of isolated discoveries of 
buildings, substantial traces of industrial activity (primarily pottery production), and burials. 
This is in large part because the area has not received as much systematic attention as its 
neighbour across the river, the majority of the data being drawn from casual finds, or ‘salvage’ 
excavations. That having been said, Robinson (1978, 34-40) lists some 140 ‘sites’ and finds 
spots on the south-eastern bank of the river, although many of these relate to cemeteries and 
reports of discoveries of burials (see below). However there are at least 24 sites and finds spots 
that have produced evidence of building remains, often ‘stone floors’ or isolated walls. Given 
the nature of the recording that has been undertaken in Norton the limited detail is perhaps 
not surprising, nor is the fact that the later Roman period is better represented in the archaeo- 
logical record than the earlier. What is clear is that there is evidence for settlement in the 
Norton area from the middle of the second century with a probably domestic Antonine stone 
building near the north end of Langton Road (Robinson 1978, 35 no. 264). This structure was 
replaced by a substantial stone building with opus signinum floor, which later in its history was 
put to an industrial use, with a smelting hearth being inserted into the floor. Elsewhere evi- 
dence of occupation in the third and fourth centuries, and perhaps beyond, has been recorded 
on a number of sites, the Eastfields Estate and St Peter’s Vicarage Garden being two examples. 
It is perhaps significant that at Eastfields, the removal of part of the fourth-century paving 
revealed some evidence of third-century occupation suggesting that the site may represent 
expansion of domestic occupation at a time contemporary with the development of the Norton 
pottery industry. As in Malton more recent work has added to our knowledge of Norton with 
evidence of buildings at the Bright Steels (Stephens and Ware 1995, 14) and Ryedale Cash 
Registers (MAP 1998b) sites. 

The Pottery industry 

The best evidence that we have relating to pottery production derives from the area of Howe 
Road and Langton Road, where a group of kilns was excavated in 1948-49 (Hayes and Whitley 
1950; Hayes 1988, 72-77). However it appears that these only represent a proportion of what 
was an extensive industry: Bidwell and Croom (1997, 101) allow at least 13 kilns and there is 
possible evidence for up to a further 10, along with other material such as fire bars. Recent 
work at Grove Cottage has added a further single-flued up-draught kiln, similar to those 
reported by Hayes and Whitley (Hayes and Whitley 1950; Hayes 1988, 72-76), while geophysi- 


44 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


cal survey has suggested more kilns in the area (Gater 1986). 

Pottery production at Norton has been considered by a number of authorities (Swan 1984, 
109-11; Evans 1988, 324-26; Bidwell and Croom 1997, 101-03) as well as by Corder in the 
original publication of the kilns (Hayes and Whitley 1950, 26-37). As currently known from 
the kiln evidence pottery production at Norton was a third- and possibly early fourth-century 
phenomenon. Swan (1984, 109-1 1 ) has suggested production in the later second century and 
more recently Bidwell and Croom ( 1997, 101 ) have stated that ‘the grey ware fabric used at the 
Norton kilns is identical to that used for 1st and 2nd century vessels’, although no kilns of that 
date have been identified. Early products included mortaria, although Hartley and Croom 
(1997, 110) suggest that local mortaria production went into decline in the late second century 
- ‘although at least one local kiln site appears to have continued into the third century’. 

Other crafts 

It is clear that other crafts would have been practised in Roman Malton/Norton, as is 
suggested by the insertion of a furnace, possibly for iron smithing/smelting, into the floor of a 
fourth-century building in Norton (Robinson 1978, 35 no. 264) and also by the well known 
inscription referring to a goldsmith’s shop (RIBIXf). Indeed it is possible that some of the 
‘possible kilns’ referred to above could represent high temperature industries other than 
pottery production. However what is also clear is that in Norton this activity, including pottery 
production, happened in a suburban context with buildings intermingled with the workshops. 
No doubt some of these would have been directly related to the industrial activity and would 
have been used for activities such as pot-drying, while others presumably represented homes 
and shops. A similar relationship has been observed at Water Newton, where the extra-mural 
suburb north of the River Nene in the Normangate Field area has produced extensive evi- 
dence of occupation and industrial activity (Hartley 1960, 7; Dannell 1974; Burnham and 
Wacher 1990, 84-87). At Norton tesserae from Commercial Street suggest that high status 
occupation may have existed in fairly close proximity to the industrial activity, unless the finds 
relate to a workshop for their production. This apparent inter-mingling of occupation with 
settlement further obscures the extent, or at least the intensity, of the civilian settlement on the 
Norton side of the river. 

Burial 

The cemeteries of Roman Malton/Norton are poorly known, although a number of indi- 
vidual find-spots and small groups of burials have been recorded. On the Malton side of the 
river, in addition to the 29 infant burials within the fort, cremations and inhumations, includ- 
ing a stone sarcophagus and a possible gypsum burial, are known outside the porta principalis 
sinistra (Robinson 1978, 26, nos. 67, 69-71, 73, 74). To the north-west of the fort, close to the 
line of the road from the porta decumana, an inscribed tombstone (RIB7H) was found in the 
eighteenth century, and the area has also produced ‘urns’. A contracted burial was found in 
1848 outside the southern corner of the fort, two cremations are also mentioned, but these 
were ‘found elsewhere’ (Clark 1935, 104; Robinson 1978, 27, no. 88). A further cremation was 
found towards the river south of the 1968-70 excavations (Robinson 1978, 28, no. 122) and an 
isolated inhumation is recorded from the area of the railway line to the east (Robinson 1978, 
28, no. 126). The 1968-70 excavations produced two burials: an infant burial cut into a floor 
of Building I and probably post-dating AD 378 (Wenham and Heywood 1997, 28); the second 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


45 


an adult, which probably post-dated AD 250, cut into the floor of Room 3 of Building III 
(Wenham and Heywood 1997, 24). In addition there are various references to cremation and 
inhumation burials and ‘urns’ in antiquarian sources. Although the latter lack any indication 
of associated bone it is possible that some at least of them, along with some of those referred to 
above from near the porta decumana . , may represent cremations. 

Across the river there are a number of areas in Norton that have produced Roman-period 
burials. Two inhumations were cut into the area of the kilns excavated by Hayes and Whitley 
on Howe Road (Hayes and Whitley 1950, 11), with a further inhumation recorded some 45 m 
south-west and a skull reported from The Grove (Robinson 1978, 39, nos. 352, 353). In the 
Wold Street/Langton Road area a variety of finds of inhumations, cremations and a tombstone 
(RIB 715) indicate an extensive cemetery extending for over 500 m (Robinson 1978, 35-37, 
nos. 270, 271, 306-10, 316). Similarly in the Wood Street/Beverley Road area various finds of 
inhumations and cremations suggest another extensive cemetery (Robinson 1978, 36-39, nos. 

275, 276, 278, 279, 285-88). Inhumation and cremation burials have been found either side of 
Commercial Street over a distance of some 200 m (Robinson 1978, 35, nos. 245, 248-251), 
with three or four additional adult skeletons being found in 1981 near the junction with Wold 
Street. Some 60 inhumation burials and an unknown number of cremations of second- to mid 
fourth-century date are known from a probable enclosed cemetery east of Langton Road. The 
evidence from this cemetery is primarily derived from three discoveries: 

An excavation at 98 Langton Road by the Scarborough and District Archaeological 
Society in 1953 which produced 26 inhumations and four or five cremations (Robinson 1978, 
39, no. 354; Hayes 1988, 77-80); 

A group of burials discovered in a neighbouring garden in 1960 (Hayes 1988, 77- 
80), and 

• An apparently enclosed cemetery partially excavated in 1966-7 at The Ridings, Langton 
Road, less than 100 m from the 1953 discoveries. This work produced some 33 burials, 
including at least seven cremations (Robinson 1978, 39, no. 355). 

DISCUSSION 

The fort at Malton and the possible Iron Age settlement that preceded it (Robinson 1978, 4; 
Wenham 1974, 6; Wenham and Heywood 1997, 1 ) appear to have shared a common reason for 
their siting - the crossing point of the River Derwent, which in the Roman period made the site 
a major route focus (see below). However it should be pointed-out that the evidence for Later 
Iron Age occupation is less clear-cut than was suggested by Wenham, as much of the material 
that his summary suggested derived from a burnt surface representing Roman military clear- 
ance of the site (Wenham 1974, 6-7), was in fact from later contexts (Wenham and Heywood 
1997, 19, 31, 37). Equally it is possible that a number of the ‘Iron Age tradition’ artefacts from 
the site may be Roman in date, for example the weaving combs from Hadrianic/Antonine 
contexts (Wenham and Heywood 1997, 144-45). Examination of the Roman road system 
(Margary 1973, map 17) shows the importance of the Derwent crossing at Malton as a route 
focus. The next major crossing to the east is on Roman road M817 near Sherburn, some 17.5 
km upstream, and to the south-west crossings on roads M80a and M2e lie beyond the Kirkham 
Gorge, at Stamford Bridge and near Kexby at distances of c. 17 km and c. 21 km respectively. 


46 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


Effectively this means that Malton controls the western side of the Vale of Pickering and is well 
placed to dominate much of the Wolds and Howardian Hills. In terms of Roman military 
deployment this position is crucial, the fort is the only one east of York to be occupied for the 
bulk of the Roman period and controls the eastern approaches to York. Once the initial 
conquest of the area was complete it would presumably have provided a base for ‘patrol and 
control’ for areas ranging from the Wolds into the North York Moors. 

Fort size cannot be regarded as a reliable guarantee of garrison type, given the evidence for: 
over-garrisoning on Hadrian’s Wall (Frere 1987, 167), units and part-units being brigaded 
together (Hassall 1998) and the potential use of areas within forts for ‘non-standard activities’, 
for example the gyrus at The Lunt, Baginton (Hobley 1973), the supply base at South Shields 
(Dore and Gillam 1979, 41-54, 61-66; Bidwell and Speak 1994, 20-32), or Wenham’s suggestion 
of Malton as a centre for the collection of the annona (Wenham 1974, 14). However, Frere 
(1987, 188) notes that ‘the annona ... was a feature only of the late empire’ and therefore, if 
relevant, could only be used to explain developments later in the site’s history. In the light of 
this a mixed garrison or a specialist function for the fort might be suggested. Although with 
respect to the latter no published or unpublished data provide evidence for any specialist 
activity comparable with, for example, the leather-working attested at Catterick (Hooley 2002). 
However, it should be stressed that many specialist activities, whether or not they were directly 
in the hands of the military, could have been undertaken outside the defences of the fort 
(Sommer 1984, 4). They could be located in an annexe where one existed, as in the case of the 
extensive metal-working at Newstead, or in the vicus. That having been said, and accepting the 
cautions noted above, the size of the Trajanic and later fort, at some 3.4ha, is well within the 
size range suggested byjohnson (1983, 293 - 1.9-4ha) and Bennett (1986, fig. 2 - c. 2.3-4.5ha) 

for an ala quingenaria (unit of auxiliary cavalry 512 strong). Given the known presence of the 
Ala Picentiana, coupled with the lack of evidence for changes to the size of the fort from the 
Trajanic period at least, and the extent of the area over which the garrison might have had to 
patrol, a mounted, or part-mounted, garrison throughout the existence of the fort, might be a 
realistic expectation. However as discussed elsewhere (Wilson 1991), it seems a improbable to 
this author that Malton was the base for some form of late-Roman ‘rapid deployment force’ 
that would hasten to the assistance of the coastal ‘signal stations’ when faced with attack, as was 
first suggested by Corder and Kirk (1928, 82) and has been accepted by various more recent 
authorities (for example Ottaway 2000, 188-90). Given the distances and topography involved 
it is likely that any raiders would have been long gone by the time that troops from Malton 
arrived. 

Wenham (1974, 8) suggested that Malton/Norton served as one of four pagus centres of the 
Parisi. However we have no evidence relating to the legal status of Malton/Norton civilian 
settlement at any date, and with respect to its earlier histoiy the term wcusis used in this paper 
as a convenient shorthand, with the acknowledgement that we cannot demonstrate the formal 
relationship to the fort. 

The discoveries at the New Rugby Club site and elsewhere suggest that the civilian settle- 
ment on the north bank of the river may be considerably more extensive than previously 
believed. On the north-eastern side of the fort possible models include: 

1. Ribbon development towards Old Malton, possibly continuous away from the burials 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


47 


known outside the porta principalis sinistra and perhaps including the occupation evidence 
noted by Robinson east of the railway (Robinson 1978, 26 no. 80). This might indicate that the 
finds recorded from Old Malton may relate, not to a physically separate area activity or occu- 
pation, but form part of a much more extensive vicus than has previously been assumed, with 
occupation extending beyond the vicus / annexe defences recorded in the 1968-70 excavations; 

2. The existence of a separate area of civil settlement in the Old Malton/New Rugby Club area 
- presumably any such settlement would have been closely associated with the vicus and 
focused on the road from the north-east gate of the fort; 

3. Given the limited nature of the investigations on the New Rugby Club site and the 
consequent lack of detailed understanding of the buildings, it is possible that they could 
represent a villa complex similar to those known in close proximity to other Roman towns, for 
example to the east of Kenchester (Wilmott and Rahtz 1985). 

To the Old Malton/New Rugby Club evidence should be added the newly discovered occu- 
pation areas north-west and west of the fort in the Old Maltongate and St Leonard’s areas. 

Thus, on the Malton side of the river, civilian occupation can be seen to extend to at least 
lOha (perhaps 12ha if Old Malton is included) and possibly more, if some of the various areas 
around the fort were linked, rather than representing a series of separate foci, and if ribbon 
development did extend along the road from the fort to Old Malton. However continuous 
areas of occupation cannot be assumed with certainty as it appears that fourth-century occu- 
pation did not extend across the whole area defined by the vicus defences (Wenham and 
Heywood 1997, 37). Equally it is clear that not all of the recorded occupation would have been 
contemporary, as evidenced by the apparent lack of fourth-century structures at the New 
Rugby Club, nor is the intensity of occupation established away from the excavated areas in 
Orchard Field (Mitchelson 1964; Wenham and Heywood 1997). The core of the site would 
appear remain the Orchard Field area, the location of the possible fort annexe, defended vicus, 
and fourth-century defences, where in the fourth century buildings ‘clustered close to the two 
known roads leading ... to Norton’ (Wenham and Heywood 1997, 37). Given the limitations of 
the evidence it is even more difficult to suggest the extent of occupation on the Norton side of 
the river, but it is clear that domestic occupation extends over at least lOha. However again 
there is a need to be cautious with regard to both the intensity of occupation and the contem- 
poraneity of occupation in different areas, a caution emphasised by the apparent intermin- 
gling of industrial activity and occupation and the presence of burials between or within the 
settlement areas. 

Despite the advances in our knowledge we do not have the evidence to reconstruct in detail 
the origins of the Malton/Norton civil settlements. Many of the population were probably 
incomers given the apparently exclusive use of intrusive rectilinear building types, although 
that could in part represent the influence of the military. Equally the internal morphology of 
the civilian settlement, away from the excavated sites in Orchard Field, is far from clear. The 
impression from the location of antiquarian and other reported discoveries and the more 
extensive work at Malton New Rugby Club is of ribbon development along the roads outside 
each of the gates of the fort. Similarly most of the discoveries on the Norton side of the river 
appear to focus on the lines of the roads extending from the river crossing. However the nature 


48 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


and scale of investigations precludes any further refinement of what is in effect ‘an impression’. 
That having been said the occupation recorded in the area of The Grove rather seems to buck 
this trend, but this may reflect an association with the pottery manufacturing activity in the area. 

The apparent extension of occupation areas and the level and variety of economic activity 
in the third if not the later second century indicates that Malton/Norton was a ‘successful’ 
settlement and this author would argue that by this time it can probably be regarded as ‘urban’ 
in function at least, despite the lack of evidence for its legal status. It appears as the focus for a 
group of six or seven higher status sites evidenced by mosaics: Beadlam (Neal 1996; Neal and 
Cosh 2002, 322-23); Hovingham (Neal and Cosh 2002, 341), Langton villa (Corder and Kirk 
1932; Neal and Cosh 2002, 343), Langton, Middle Farm (Corder and Kirk 1932, 15-6; Neal and 
Cosh 2002, 342) Musley Bank (Kitson Clark 1935, 111; Neal and Cosh 2002, 347), 
Roughborough (Kitson Clark 1935, 111; Neal and Cosh 2002, 350), and Wharram le Street 
(Rahtz and Bateman 1986; Neal and Cosh 2002, 367). These sites are in most cases likely to be 
villas, although some are poorly understood. To these can be added other high status sites 
including the recently discovered site at Blansby Park, Pickering (Watts etal 2003), Wharram 
Grange (Hayfield 1986) and possibly Wharram Percy, North Manor (Rahtz and Watts 2004, 
283-4). Again these sites are perhaps best regarded as villas, but as is the case with many of the 
sites much of our knowledge derives from early records, or small scale excavations, and there- 
fore in some cases other interpretations may be possible. The site at Wharram le Street is a 
case in point. Its location at the head of the Gypsey Race stream has led to suggestions that it 
might be a religious complex (David 1986, chapter 9.6; Rahtz and Bateman 1986, chapter 13). 
Whatever the character of these sites they demonstrate the existence of an economy with 
access to significant surplus resources and Malton/Norton appears ideally placed to act as a 
market centre both for the products of agricultural estates and for the provision of goods and 
resources, such as specialist craftsmen, that would be essential to the creation and mainte- 
nance of what can, at a regional level, be seen in traditional terms as ‘Romanised’, or as 
representative of ‘becoming Roman’ (Woolf 1998). 

By the fourth century the success of Malton/Norton manifests itself through obvious pros- 
perity, as demonstrated by the Town House, its mosaic and the wall paintings, the latter being 
described as ‘of some pretension’ by Martin Henig (2006, catalogue no. 1 29). Henig questions 
the function of the building stating that it ‘doubtless had an official function of some sort’ 
(Henig 2006, catalogue no. 132). While he may be correct, it appears more probable to this 
author that the Town House is exactly that, a dwelling of some pretension appropriate in 
character and form to the core of the developing urban centre. What is less clear is the relation- 
ship of the different components of the settlement. At least in the first and second centuries it 
is tempting to see the area of occupation in Orchard Field, south-east of the fort, as represent- 
ing a vicus established under close military control and its development encouraged by the 
military. However, is the same true of occupation elsewhere around the fort and particularly on 
the Norton side of the river, or at the New Rugby Club site some 0.5km north-east of the fort? 
Alternatively were these latter areas of occupation under less close military supervision than 
those in the shadow of the fort? That the military would have had a hand in the running of 
settlements associated with forts, at least to begin with, is a commonplace, although how long 
this would have lasted, or how far direct military control would have extended is uncertain. 
Indeed the possibility of multi-focal occupation in the vicinity of the fort raises the possibility 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


49 


of some distinction in the civilian population on the lines suggested by Sommer on the basis of 
proximity to a fort (Sommer 1984, 17). In the case of Malton we might be seeing Sommer’s 
‘military civilians’ outside the porta praetoria . , in what can later be regarded as the core of the 
civilian settlement based on our current knowledge, and his ‘civil civilians’ establishing them- 
selves in other locations on the roads leading to the other gates and on the Norton side of the 
river. It is known that territorial areas directly controlled or even owned by the military (see 
Sommer (1984, 13-14) for a summary discussion), existed in association with auxiliary forts, as 
evidenced by the building inscription from Chester-le-Street dated to AD 216 that refers to the 
...i\errito\ [ rium ... of a cavalry regiment ( RIB 1049). However we have no idea how extensive 
territoria would have been, how they might manifest themselves in the archaeological record 
in the absence of inscriptions, or how they would impact on the development of civilian 
settlement, if at all. 

Malton/Norton functioned as a regional centre for pottery production (see below) and 
presumably as, as suggested above, a market centre for other types of goods and services. The 
goldsmith’s shop inscription indicates a range of economic activity, coupled with a reasonable 
level of disposable income on the part of some in the population of the town and surrounding 
area. This might also suggest that once established the civilian settlement at Malton/Norton 
may have developed an economic life that did not depend entirely on the fort and its garrison. 
Although it is likely that Wenham was right in suggesting that: 

‘Traders, shopkeepers, entertainers and a variety of other folks - of both sexes - were attracted by 
these troops and their pay packets’ (Wenham 1974, 35), 

and presumably the fort would have continued to have had a significant effect on the settle- 
ment and its economy. However the existence of the pottery industry, and in particular the 
distribution pattern for Crambeck Ware which sees it in quantity on Hadrian’s Wall and 
elsewhere in the north (Evans 1989, 68-74), suggests that the Malton/Norton area was part of 
a considerable and, probably sophisticated, distribution network. The Crambeck kilns are 
located 7km south-west of the Derwent crossing at Malton/Norton, with outlying kilns at 
Crambe 1.5km to the south. Given that the material was high volume/low value it appears 
reasonable to assume that much of the pottery might be moved using the river system through 
York. Although the main kiln group is located above the Kirkham Gorge, where the river cuts 
through the Howardian Hills, the kilns are well-placed for access to the river to the north, or 
more likely the south of the gorge. This might put any loading point 10km from Malton/ 
Norton. However Evans has argued that significant use was made of road transport for distri- 
bution into the North-West over distances of up to 180 km (Evans 2000, 40). He has further 
suggested that Crambeck’s success may in part relate to it being located near the edge of the 
‘predicted market areas of Malton, York and Shiptonthorpe’ (Evans 1989, 80, fig. 5), thereby 
giving it access to a range of markets. Clearly both of these views may be valid, but given the 
accumulating evidence any predicted market model ought to perhaps now also take account of 
Stamford Bridge, given the expanding evidence for the site cited above. Whatever the value of 
the ‘market areas’ concept it seems probable that the pottery industry contributed to the local 
economy on a significant scale and that Malton/Norton would be the market centre to benefit 
most, possibly with some accruing to Stamford Bridge by virtue of its downstream location, 
even if much of the pottery was being purchased through some form of military contract in the 
later fourth century (Evans 1989, 77-78; 2000, 40). 


50 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


The survival of the Malton/Norton civilian settlement into the late fourth century provides 
a contrast with the vie ion and behind Hadrian’s Wall. On the Wall and in Cumbria, Northum- 
berland and County Durham, civilian sites were often abandoned before the forts with which 
they were associated. At Vindolanda this happened by perhaps AD 270 and at Brough by 
Sands by early in the fourth century (Snape 1991, 468). The pattern of early decline or aban- 
donment of via is seen away from Hadrian’s Wall at Old Penrith - ‘around the third quarter of 
the third century’ (Austen 1991, 227) and at Chester-le-Street - by the mid fourth century at the 
latest (Dr.J. Evans pers comm). In Yorkshire at Castleford ‘the bulk of the population appear 
to have abandoned the vicus in the mid to late 2nd century’ (Abramson et al 1999, 151), 
although some kind of occupation was recognised for part of the third century in trench 10 
(Abramson et al 1999, 304). This contrast would seem to support the suggestion that the 
civilian site at Malton/Norton had a vitality of its own and at least in part was not dependent on 
the military component of the site and would suggest that Catterick might be seen as a reason- 
able parallel - a site with a continuing military presence, but also with a vigorous civilian 
component (Wilson 2002a; 2002b). In the case of both Malton/Norton and Catterick the level 
of interaction with the surrounding area must have been significantly higher than that seen on 
the northern frontier, where it is possible to argue that the links between the northern vici and 
the local population were tenuous given the limited penetration of Romanised material culture 
into the countryside, particularly in Cumbria. With respect to Malton the presence of high 
status settlements in the surrounding area has been noted above, but lesser rectilinear build- 
ings are also known on smaller-scale sites, such as Brough Hill Settrington - a rectilinear 
building of several rooms (Ramm 1978, 76-7) and Old Pasture, Spaunton - a fourth-century 
aisled building (Whitaker 1967). Equally the presence of Crambeck pottery on many minor 
sites in the East Yorkshire countryside points to the existence of significant local trade, and 
again Malton/Norton is the obvious market centre for much of the area. 

In attempting to understand the local economy it is not entirely clear to what extent the 
development of the Norton pottery industry, the most extensive commercial activity within 
the settlement, represents anything more than a response to local demand. It appears primarily 
to have served the Malton/Norton area, but was strong enough to have monopolised ‘greyware 
supply at and through Malton’ in the third century (Evans 2000, 40), even in the face of the 
developing Crambeck industry that was to dominate potteiy supply across the north of Eng- 
land during the fourth century. Norton products are known from Brough-on-Humber in the 
third century, Castleford in the early fourth century, and scattered examples of probable 
Norton sherds are known from sites in north-east England, including for example Vindolanda, 
Carrawburgh and South Shields, with occasional examples from other sites along Dere Street 
to the south of Hadrian’s Wall (Evans 1988, 326). Its location would have given the Norton 
industiy some advantages including direct access to the market represented by Malton/Norton 
and the local road network focused on the river crossing, along with the potential to exploit 
river transport. However its suburban location may possibly have been in some ways a handi- 
cap, and in particular may have required fuel and possibly clay to have been brought in from 
some distance, unless the local landscape incorporated managed woodland and clay pits. 

The Roman period cemetery evidence from Malton/Norton is limited; we lack a large body 
of data derived from a single excavation, and most of the large number of inhumations and 
cremations known are recorded in antiquarian, or other non-archaeological sources. A degree 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


51 


of uncertainty is generated by the antiquarian sources due to the imprecise nature of the 
terminology used, and in particular by references to ‘urns’. The term ‘urn(s)’ could imply that 
the pot(s) was/were more-or-less complete and the most probable sources of complete pots are 
burials, either to hold cremations, or as grave goods in inhumations. However, unless the 
reference incorporates mention of skeletal material it is perhaps safe to assume that inhuma- 
tions are not indicated in these cases, and cremations may be expected. 

The distribution of recorded Roman period cemetery evidence in Malton appears broadly 
to conform to the expected model of burial sited alongside roads. Burials are known outside 
the north-east and north-west gates of the fort, and perhaps also the south-west gate. However 
bones recorded from St Leonard’s churchyard in 1650 may not have been Roman in date 
(Robinson 1978, 31, no. 172), although an ‘urn’ from the area could well have been (Robinson 
1978, 26, no. 79). These, along with the burials from near the river and southern corner of the 
fort, might be taken to suggest that the cemeteries were established in areas where the develop- 
ment of occupation areas was not expected. An alternative view, that so far we have only seen 
later Roman burials and that occupation had contracted by the time most of the known burials 
were made, seems improbable to this writer, particularly given the evidence for cremation, 
which is generally believed to be the earlier rite (but see below). 

The distribution of burials could suggest that the development of the civilian component of 
Malton was planned, with settlement zoned in the area south-west of, and later over, the 
defended annexes, but not anticipated elsewhere, given the legal requirement to separate 
burial from occupation. However there are a number of difficulties with this suggestion. It 
appears that when the railway was constructed burials may have been found along much of its 
length between the north-east gate of the fort and the river, suggesting an extensive cemetery 
zone away from the known road that extends towards the New Rugby Club site and Old 
Malton (Robinson 1978, 26, no. 79). Equally the occupation in those areas, and particularly at 
the New Rugby Club site, as well as along Old Maltongate and in the Sheepfoot Hill area 
suggests that the initial expectations of the settlement were exceeded and settlement extended 
over or around cemetery areas. Does this mean that the cemeteries so affected had gone out of 
use by the time the occupation areas expanded, or did they survive in islands within it? As the 
limited evidence that we have suggests that we have mixed-rite cemeteries, the latter seems 
more likely. We know that cremation burial did extend into the fourth century in the north, for 
example Brough-under-Stainmore (M. Jones 1977) and Birdoswald, and also in other parts of 
the country, for example at Lankhills, Winchester (Clarke 1979, 128-30), and Kelvedon Site J 
(Philpott 1991, table 8). Despite this inhumation can be accepted as generally the later of the 
two rites and the existence of mixed cemeteries suggests that that they were in use for some 
considerable time. Equally in discussing discoveries outside the north-east gate of the fort, 
particularly a possible gypsum burial and at a higher level ‘two cineraiy urns of calcite gritted 
ware’, Corder (1930, 26) concluded that they must have all belonged ‘to a late period of 
occupation’. If there were something of a breakdown in observance of the law that forbade the 
intermingling of occupation and burial Malton/Norton would not be unique, as a similar 
occurrence has been suggested for York (R. F. J. Jones 1984, 40). 

The burials recorded in Norton can be divided into two main groups, or cemetery areas. 
One apparently focused on the junction of the known Roman roads to Settrington (Margary 
1973, no. 812) and North Grimston (Margary 1973, no. 813), taking in those burials known 


52 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


from the Wood Street/Beverley Road and Commercial Road areas and the other on the line of 
the modern Langton Road. Langton Road appears likely to be on the line of a Roman road, 
possibly an alternative route to Brough-on-Humber that could have joined road Margary 29 
(Margary 1973, 419-20) some 10-12 km south-east of the latter’s junction with the York to 
Malton road (Margary 1973, no. 81a). This second cemetery could possibly incorporate the 
burials in the Howe Road/The Grove area. Again there appears to be a mixing of cremations 
and inhumations within the cemeteries. In the Settrington/North Grimston roads area there 
are few details about the discoveries north of the road, but it is clear from nineteenth-century 
references that there was a substantial concentration of burials of both rites here. To the south 
of the road the balance appears to be towards inhumation burials, but the references are brief 
and the fullest of them does include cremation material. The sources for the area to the north 
of the road are similar and it is probable therefore that the quality of the information is also 
similar. The burials in this area have been recorded over an area c. 400 m by 300 m in extent, 
suggesting a major cemetery, but it must be noted that interspersed amongst the burials are 
many discoveries of structural material, calling into question the extent of the area occupied 
by the cemetery, and the relative periods of use of the area for burial and for occupation. 

The cemetery area centred on Langton Road extends for 650 m south from the junction 
with Commercial Road. The evidence suggests a mixing of rites throughout the cemetery; 
again with evidence for Roman period structural remains within the area of the ‘cemetery’. 
What cannot be clear from the record, at least within the northern part of the distribution, is 
if we are dealing with a continuous spread of cemetery material or a series of discrete areas, 
with areas of occupation between them, such as is apparently the case on the north-western 
side of York (R. E J. Jones 1984, fig. 1). A hint that discrete areas might have existed is 
provided by the apparent existence of an enclosed cemetery at the Ridings (Robinson 1978, 
39, no. 355) - compare the late second- to late fourth-/fifth-century enclosed cemetery at 
Bainesse near Catterick which was surrounded by occupation areas for at the least the first 
150 years of its use (Wilson 2002a, 164-80). That having been said it is probable that all 
cemetery areas were delimited in some way, and although the recognition of the extent of the 
burial area is of interest, it is perhaps not crucial to the broad understanding of mortuary 
practice in Malton/Norton. The significance of cemetery boundaries in symbolic and social, 
or perhaps ethnographic terms, beyond the simple separating of burial from other activity, or 
the exclusion of animals from the cemetery area, would require epigraphic evidence and/or 
possibly extensive scientific analysis of burial groups, data currently only available from a very 
limited number of sites in Roman Britain. However the recent Brougham report has demon- 
strated the potential of cemetery assemblages to address questions relating to cultural back- 
ground and ethnicity (Cool 2004, 464-66). 

The Ridings/98 Langton Road enclosed cemetery is the only area of burial activity that is in 

any way closely dated from Malton/Norton. Hayes states that the relative dating of the crema- 
tions and inhumations from the first discovery was not clear, but that some at least of both 
cremations and inhumations were associated with Knapton and Norton type pottery (Evans 
1988, 77-80), which suggests that the two rites probably overlapped, even if they were not both 
current for the full duration of the use of the cemetery. The pottery suggests that the period of 
use fell within the third and perhaps early fourth centuries. In discussing the ethnicity of those 
buried in the Brougham cemetery McKinley has observed that ‘cremation had remained pre- 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


53 


dominant amongst the northern Germanic peoples, particularly in the Saxon coastlands’ 
(McKinley 2004, 308). Although tenuous, this may give us a hint of the possible origins of a 
significant element of the population - it maybe that the later third-/ fourth-century garrison of 
the fort (the largest potential intrusive group in the settlement) may have been of Germanic 
origin, thereby accounting for the persistence of cremation, and perhaps its continued use or 
re-adoption by elements of the local population. 

There are two objects of Germanic type from Malton that might support this suggestion. 
The first is a brooch - a Meyer (1960) series I Biigelknopffibel with polyhedral knobs that 
probably from a burial found before 1866 (Robinson 1978, 40, no 378; Eagles 1979, 67, fig. 
110) and the second a silver propeller-shaped belt stiffener ( Propellerformige Verstarker) found 
by the late Tony Pacitto with a metal detector during the New Rugby Club project. Eagles 
(1979, 67) notes that Meyer cites dated examples of Biigelknopffibeln from the mid third to the 
early sixth centuries and suggests that it might ‘have belonged to a German officer in the late 
Roman army, while Robinson ( 1978, 40, no 378) suggests a late fourth- or fifth-century date. If 
there was a Germanic garrison from the later third century as suggested above it is possible 
that the Biigelknopffibel need not be late as Eagles and Robinson suggest, or if later demon- 
strate that later generations of soldiers retained a taste for elements of an ethnically distinct 
material culture. However ‘military equipment’ such belt stiffeners are well known along the 
northern frontiers of he Roman Empire and the types of belt decorated with them were 
probably worn by Imperial officials, as well as by soldiers and may not relate to the ethnic 
origin of the wearer and the same caution might apply to the Biigelknopffibel and therefore 
neither object need necessarily relate to the ethnic origins of garrison or the cultural prefer- 
ences of the inhabitants of Malton/Norton. 

Given the relatively late date of the The Ridings/98 Langton Road cemetery it appears likely 
that the areas used for burial had spread south along the line of the Roman road. However, in 
York it is apparent that many of the cemeteries of the first and second centuries are relatively 
remote from the fortress and town. This can possibly be explained by a desire to ensure that 
the cemeteries remained outside the occupied area of the site as it developed, the later cem- 
eteries, lying closer to the fortress and town, representing an acknowledgement of the failure 
of occupation to expand to the extent initially allowed for (R. F. J. Jones 1984, 37). In Malton 
the lack of dated graves from the areas surrounding the fort and from the cemetery areas in 
Norton closest to the river crossing does not preclude there having been such planning. 
However the existence of a relatively late cemetery at a considerable distance from the appar- 
ent focus of occupation does suggest that the cemeteries of Malton/Norton may represent a 
relatively unstructured development. It is possible to envisage a situation where ‘prime sites’ 
on the approach roads were in relatively short supply forcing the use of areas further and 
further away from the fort and core of the civilian settlement. It may be that particular loca- 
tions were regarded as more prestigious than others and in the case of Malton/Norton it might 
be that Langton Road, suggested above as one of the roads to Brough-on-Humber and the 
Humber crossing, held this status. 

The discussion of the burials from Norton has been in terms of two cemeteries and it would 
appear clear that the distribution of known burials does coincide with the Roman roads as 
suggested above, as defined the two areas come within almost 100 m of each other near the 
assumed junction of the Roman roads. It maybe that the original focus of burial activity was 


54 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


the major road junction on the southern side of the river crossing (the area of the modern 
Langton Road/Wood Street junction), although we should note the Antonine building at the 
north end of Langton Road (above). Accepting that the record is necessarily biased by the 
chance nature of the discoveries, and the nature of much of the recording, it may be that this 
cemetery area respected the limits of the main area of occupation around the river crossing, 
although some evidence of occupation is known from both cemeteries, as is mentioned above 
for the area to the north of the Settrington Roman road. What is not clear is the status of this 
occupation. Many of the non-burial discoveries in Norton away from the river relate to the 
extensive potteiy industry (see above), and others may do. Therefore it would appear that the 
law forbidding burial inside settlements may not have applied, or was not applied to areas of 
industrial activity, but it is not clear how far industrial activity and domestic occupation were 
separated - for example the possible ‘industrial’ sites recorded in Langton Road in an area also 
containing cemeteries (Hayes 1988, 86-9). What we may be seeing in Norton is a disregard for 
the law away from the main part of the vicus , a situation paralleled to the south of the colonia 
at York, where buildings recorded in Clementhorpe lay between apparently contemporary 
cemetery areas at Baile Hill and in Clementhorpe (Brinklow et al 1986). 

Crouched, or otherwise contracted burials were a feature of the enclosed cemetery on 
Langton Road; of the twenty-six inhumations reported by Hayes, seven (26.9%) were not fully 
extended. This, coupled with antiquarian references to at least six crouched, or ‘doubled-up’ 
burials, suggests that if Radley is correct and crouched burials represent the local pre-Roman 
burial tradition (Radley 1974, 13), the corpus of burials from Malton/Norton may demonstrate 
a greater conservatism in rite than is seen in York where Roman period crouched burials are 
not common. It is perhaps significant that there are no crouched burials dated to the fourth 
century from Malton/Norton (Philpott 1991, 57), but as evidence of change this must be 
treated with caution given the lack of a substantial excavated cemetery. Similarly the presence 
of extended inhumations ‘with more romanised furniture and treatment of the body’ at an 
earlier date in Malton than in Norton (Philpott 1991, 57), may be significant. However the 
limited data sets preclude an over-reliance on the evidence currently available, although in 
broad terms it accords with the apparent conservatism suggested above. 

CONCLUDING SUMMARY 

It is hoped that this paper has shown some of the potential inherent in the data that we 
already have for Malton/Norton, and also some of its weaknesses and lacunae. That having 
been said it is perhaps possible to make some statements regarding Roman Malton/Norton: 

• The site is likely to be the Delgovicia of the Antonine Itinerary, 

• The fort was occupied for most Roman period, saving a gap in occupation in the Hadrianic/ 
Early Antonine period 

• In the Trajanic period the fort had an annexe, or was associated with a defended vicus, 

• The garrison was an ala quingenaria, the Ala Picentiana, during the Antonine period (post 
c. AD 158) and possibly a Germanic unit later in the history of the site; 

• Over the life of the settlement civilian occupation extended to areas occupying at least 20 
ha, although not all that area was necessarily in contemporary occupation; 

• The core of the civilian settlement was in Orchard Field outside the porta praetoria and 


ROMAN MALTON AND NORTON 


55 


this area was provided with new defences in the third century; 

• Civilian occupation developed outside the other three gates of the fort; 

• In the case of area outside the north-east gate the occupation took the form of ribbon 
development extending towards Old Malton; 

• On the Norton side of the river there were extensive areas of occupation that survived the 
decline of the pottery industry in the early fourth century. 

• Together the civilian components of Malton/Norton represent an extensive and by the 
fourth century, at least in the Orchard Field area, intensive settlement with high status at- 
tributes. 

• Malton/Norton probably possessed a diverse economic base functioning as a local market 
centre, associated with the Norton and Crambeck pottery industries, as well as supporting 
high-value craft activity, as evidenced by the goldsmiths shop, as well as serving the needs of the 
fort garrison. 

• The civilian occupation survives to the end of the Roman period and into the fifth century, 
albeit apparently concentrated on the defended core of the settlement and later within the 
defensive ditch that was cut across the Town House and Kiln Building, 

In the view of this author the size of the civilian settlement, combined with what evidence we 
have for its economic base suggests strongly that it should be considered a ‘small town’ 
comparable with sites such as Catterick, and not simply a vicus primarily dependant on the 
fort garrison for its survival and/or prosperity. 

In trying to further advance our understanding the sort of data-sets that derive from large- 
scale modern excavation would be most welcome. However in their absence the continued 
gradual accrual of evidence from PPG 16-inspired work will help fill-out the picture, but only if 
future workers are willing to undertake syntheses of the type attempted here. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I am extremely grateful to MAP Archaeological Consultancy and York Archaeological Trust for 
access to their archives of unpublished reports. Particular thanks are due to Dr Brenda Heywood for 
commenting on a (very) draft text and to Mark Stephens for information on the Propellerformige 
Verstarker from the New Rugby Club site, although responsibility for any errors remains mine alone. 
The paper has also benefited from the comments of anonymous referees for whose insights and 
suggestions I am most grateful. The figures accompanying this paper were prepared by Vince Griffin 
and John Vallender of the English Heritage Graphics Studio (Portsmouth). 

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Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


61 


FLAXTON - THE LAYOUT OF THE ORIGINAL 

PLANNED SETTLEMENT 

By David Bourne 

The purpose of this article is to attempt to establish that the village settlement ofFlaxton 
as recorded on the 1911 edition of the 1/2500 scale Ordnance Survey map of the area may 
represent remarkably faithfully the planned single-row settlement as it existed at the time of 
the Domesday survey in 1086, with the plot frontages of Domesday still largely to be dis- 
cerned on the ground. 

There are four distinct stages in the exercise: (1) The number of oxgangs or bovates in the 
township ofFlaxton at Domesday, (2) The relationship in Flaxton of two oxgangs to one 
tenement, (3) The relationship between the number of tenements and the length of the 
frontage and (4) The sequence of events and their dating. The end result is rather similar to 
a four-storied house of cards - it may all too easily be demolished! 

In the event, the research has led to the belief that the planned single-row settlement 
already existed at the time of the Conquest in 1066. 

INTRODUCTION 

Flaxton is a compact, near-rectangular parish in North Yorkshire lying about 15 kilometres 
(9 miles) north-east of York and 2 kilometres (1.25 miles) north-west of the A. 64 road 
between York and Scarborough. The parish has an area of approximately 746 hectares 
(1,865 acres) and measures approximately 4km by 2km (2.5 by 1.25 miles), with its long axis 
lying north-east to south-west. Flaxton village itself is in the middle of the parish and is laid 
out very largely on the north-eastern side of a long Green. The parish is served by two 
principal roads in the shape of a ‘T’, one bisecting the parish and running broadly north- 
west to south-east from Sheriff Hutton to the A.64 and passing through the Green; the other 
from Strensall and York, meeting the first in the middle of the village. (See Fig. 1) 

The village faces south-west and lies on or close to the 30m contour. Behind the village the 
land rises gently and is rolling in nature, with a high point of 42m towards the north-eastern 
boundary of the parish. To the west and south-west the land is much less undulating and falls 
away slowly to a stream, the boundary with Strensall Common, and the 20m contour. 

Much broad ridge-and-furrow land existed until the 1939-45 war and aerial photographs 
of the parish, taken by the RAF in 1946, show vestiges of this extending over virtually all the 
land from south-east of the village, round through north to the north-west. Only towards the 
west round to south is it absent, indicative of the low-lying and wet nature of the soils in this 
area before post-enclosure land drainage. The presence of this former wetland area helps 
explain the earlier name of the township, Flaxton on the Moor. Prior to enclosure in 1658 
this wetland area, which represented over 40 per cent of the area of the township excluding 
the village and its Green, was known as the common or moor ofFlaxton. The few woodland 
areas in the parish are all post enclosure and it would seem that prior to this the inhabitants 
must have obtained all their wood for fuel and other purposes from trees growing on the 


common or moor. 


FOSTON 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 



FLAXTON 


63 


Until 1861 Flaxton was a township in the parishes of Bossall and Foston, with three- 
quarters lying within Bossall and the remaining quarter within Foston, the Foston lands in 
the township being scattered across the township following enclosure in 1658, and the 
Foston village houses being grouped in the middle of the single-row settlement. 

( 1 ) THE NUMBER OF OXGANGS IN THE TOWNSHIP OF FLAXTON AT THE TIME 
OF THE DOMESDAY SURVEY 

The entries in Domesday Book for Flaxton are extremely brief, lacking valuations and any 
information about the inhabitants. According to Domesday the vill or township of Flaxton 
was assessed as follows: 

The king 2Vfe carucates; 

The archbishop 6 oxgangs ( 3 /4 of a carucate); 

Count Alan 1 V 2 carucates (as a soke of Foston). 

In addition Hugh son of Baldric was assessed on 614 carucates in the manor of Buttercrambe 
and its two berewicks of Scrayingham and Flaxton, no allocation between the three elements 
being given. At the Conquest in 1066, the king’s lands were held by three unnamed thanes, 
while the archbishop was preceded by Ulfr, count Alan by earl Morcar, and Hugh by Egelfride. 1 

William Farrer, in his edition of the Yorkshire Domesday text, allocated, in brackets, 2 
oxgangs of the 614 carucates in the manor of Buttercrambe to Flaxton, but did not give his 
reasoning for so doing. 2 Later, Sir Charles Clay, when listing the Domesday holdings of 
Hugh son of Baldric recovered by Robert de Stuteville the third as tenancies-in-chief, used 
the same allocation, but had stated earlier that his work was based on Farrer’s manuscripts. 3 
Subsequent editors of the Yorkshire Domesday text have not attempted an allocation. If 
Farrer and Clay are correct, and on the basis of 8 bovates, or oxgangs, to one carucate, the 
overall assessment for Flaxton becomes 5 carucates or 40 oxgangs. 

It has been argued by the author in an earlier article that at Domesday Flaxton was 
assessed at 6 carucates or 48 oxgangs, and not as implied by Farrer and Clay. 4 The justification 
given for the increase from 5 to 6 carucates was evidence indicating that Hugh’s holding in 
Flaxton was probably 10 and not 2 oxgangs. Most of Hugh’s holdings in Yorkshire at the 
time of Domesday came into the hands of Robert de Stuteville and then descended down the 
de Stuteville line to Joan de Stuteville who married for her first husband, Hugh Wake. Her 
heir was their son Baldwyn Wake who died in 1282. The inquisition post mortem which 
followed his death included among his properties the manor of Buttercrambe and, on the 
dorse, a record of the knights’ fees pertaining to the manor. Among them was the entry 
‘Richard de Dunstapel holds the tenth part of one fee in Flaxton’. 5 The inquisition post 
mortem of 1349 of Thomas Wake, grandson of Baldwyn, extended the phrasing to ‘Peter de 


1 M. Faull and M. Stinson, eds, Domesday Book: Yorkshire , (1986), pp.300d, 303b, 313b & 381a; 
also p.328a for Hugh son of Baldric. 

2 William Page, ed., Victoria County History of the County of York vol.2, (London, 1912) hereafter 
VCH\, p.276. 

3 C. T. Clay, ed., Early Yorkshire Charters , vol.9, (1952), p.74. 

4 D. Bourne, ‘Flaxton: a Township in two Parishes’, YAJ ’ 74, (2002), 55-167. 

5 The National Archives. Kew [hereafter TNA], C 133/31 m.4. 


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Rithre chaplain and John de Dunstaple hold certain tenements in Flaxton by service of 
l/10th part of a knight’s fee worth yearly 60s’. 6 The inquisition post mortem of 1353 of 
John earl of Kent, nephew of Thomas, included ‘Peter de Rithre and John de Dunstaple held 
of the aforesaid count at the day he died those tenements in Flaxton for the service of 1 / 10th 
of a knight’s fee valued per annum £3Y Finally, though not in time, a fine of 1268, by which 
Patrick de Westewych acquired the freehold of 10 oxgangs in Flaxton, paying homage to 
Robert de Neville, specifically equated one-tenth of a knight’s fee with 10 oxgangs. 8 

Recently, further evidence has been discovered relating to Richard de Dunstapel’s holding 
in Flaxton. This is a deed of gift, said to be dated before 1290, by Richard de Dunstapel to 
Patrick de West Wyc of ‘half a carucate of land excepting his tofts at Flaxton the other half 
carucate being demised to Sir John Baudwyn of York rendering service in proportion where 
10 carucates make the forinsec service of one knight’s fee’. 9 It should be noted that the latter 
part of the statement is contrary to the statement in the fine of 1268 mentioned above, giving 
as it does only 80 oxgangs to a knight’s fee as opposed to 100. Further variations on this 
theme are given (1) in a list of knights’ fees for 1302-3 which states that in Flaxton there 
were 12 carucates (96 oxgangs) in a knight’s fee, 10 and (2) in Feudal Aids vol. VI. for 1346 
which states 15 carucates (120 oxgangs) in a fee; though in this last case eight other townships 
are also listed before the statement is made which may have confused the issue. 11 All-in-all a 
certain vagueness seems to have existed on the matter. Whatever the position regarding the 
number of oxgangs or carucates to a fee, the deed of gift confirms that Richard de Dunstapel 
had held certainly not less than 1 carucate or 8 oxgangs in Flaxton at some time prior to 
1290. 

In the same archive as the above deed of gift are two deeds of 1341 and 1349 to which a 
Peter de Rithra was a party, which related to unspecified and undifferentiated property in 
Flaxton and two other places. 12 This may well have related to the de Dunstapel holding 
mentioned in the inquisitions post mortem of 1349 and 1353 in which Rithra’s name was 
joined with that of John de Dunstaple. 

The de Dunstapel family is first encountered in Flaxton as early as 1 226 in a fine between 
Richard son of Richard de Dunstapel and Henry prior of Marton relating to one oxgang of 
land in the township. 13 In 1293 Robert de Dunstapel was occupier of a toft and croft and one 
oxgang neighbouring a property being conveyed. 14 Members of the family were assessed in 
1301 and again in 1327 but not, as it happens, in 1332. 15 The inquisitions post mortem of 
1353 mentioned above is the last relevant reference to the family: subsequent inquisitions 
post mortem of the earls of Kent and their wives, widows or daughters through to 1426 

6 TNA, C135/97 m.18. 

7 TNA, C135/118 m.40. 

8 TNA, CP25/1/265/50 no.38. 

9 West] Yorkshire Archive Service, Leeds [hereafter WYAS], WYL639/141, Weston MSS, 

10 York Minster Archives [hereafter YMA], L2(2)c. f. 60. 

11 TNA, Calendars, Feudal Aids, 6, p.212. 

12 WYAS, WYL639/187 and WYL639/189. 

13 TNA, CP25/1/262/21 no.191. 

14 YMA, MS XVI A.l, Cartulary of St Mary’s Abbey, York, f.170. 

15 W. Brown, ed., Yorkshire Lay Subsidies, Yorkshire Archaeological Society Record Series, 21, 
(1897), p.74; TNA, E179/211/6; E179/211/7A. 


FLAXTON 


65 


continue to mention the names Rithra and de Dunstable but always in the context of their 
having formerly held the Flaxton element of the manor of Buttercrambe. 16 Members of the 
de Dunstapel family were also witnesses, along with other local individuals, to some of the 
early fourteenth-century deeds relating to the Draft Farm tenement mentioned below. It 
would seem, therefore, that the family lived locally and quite possibly farmed much of their 
land themselves. 

All of the above is written with the intent of establishing from the medieval period evidence 
that, despite Farrer and Clay, Flaxton was probably - though not necessarily precisely - 
assessed at 6 carucates or 48 oxgangs at Domesday. But what is the evidence from later times 
to support this view? 

Strong evidence is provided by recently catalogued copies, dated 1808, of a small group of 
Flaxton-related manuscripts, formerly in the possession of Dr C. S. Orwin of Oxford 
University, including an incomplete but contemporary copy of the enclosure award for 
Flaxton of 1658. It is clear that the award was not accompanied by an award map. One of the 
other manuscripts indicates that Sir Thomas Norcliffe of Langton, lord of the manor of 
Foston and therefore of the Foston quarter of Flaxton, and also the most substantial freeholder 
in Flaxton at the time, was the moving spirit behind the decision to enclose. Sir Thomas, 
together with the great majority of the other freeholders, small and large, and the rector of 
Foston all agreed to be bound in the sum of £ 100 each to abide by the award of the appointed 
commissioners. 17 The rector of Bossall, the dean and chapter of Durham, being suspended at 
the time of the Protectorate, was not involved. 

In the section in the award concerned with tithes the named occupiers of l2 l Ai oxgangs in 
the Foston quarter of the township were stated as due to pay the rector of Foston 2s. 6<Y an 
oxgang yearly and the occupiers, unnamed, of a further 37V& oxgangs were due to pay 
likewise to the vicar of Bossall, confirming a total of 50 oxgangs at 1658. A terrier of 1685 for 
Foston church stated that the rector of Foston was entitled to ‘the tith of 12 oxgan of land & 
the fourth part of the tith ... of 2 oxgan of gleab in Flaxton belonging to the vicar of Bossall’, 
confirming the 1272 oxgangs. 18 Thus the extra half oxgang in Foston and the extra D /2 
oxgangs in Bossall are clearly the 2 oxgangs of the vicar of Bossall and account for the 
increase from the anticipated Domesday total of 48 oxgangs to the overall total of 50 oxgangs. 
The 2 oxgangs of the vicar of Bossall presumably existed at Domesday but, if so, he was not 
assessed on them and there would seem to be no way of discovering whether or not they did 
in fact exist at that time, as the earliest known reference to the vicar having lands in Flaxton 
is in archbishop Gray’s register for 1228, still nearly 150 years after Domesday, where it was 
stated that the vicar (a William de Stuteville, as it happens) ‘shall pay no tithe for the 
improvement belonging to his lands at Flaxton’. 19 


16 TNA, E 149/ 106 (2) m.2; C139/6 it.45; C139/13 it.46; C139/19 it.32; C139/24 it.36. 

17 Bodleian Library, Oxford, MS. Top.York.E.32; MS. Eng. c.7100, f.102. 

IH Borthwick Institute, University of York [hereafter BI], PR FOS 7-16, Foston Parish Records. 

19 J. Raine, ed., ‘The Register, or Rolls, of Walter Gray, Lord Archbishop of York’, Surtees Society 
56 (1872), p.20, XCII, 1227/8. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


CONCLUSION 

The conclusion is that at the time of the Domesday survey Flaxton township was assessed 
on 48 oxgangs, and that (probably) there were a further 2, unassessed, oxgangs of glebe land 
of the vicar ofBossall. 

It is of note, and reassuring, that 48 oxgangs equates with six carucates, and that six 
carucates appears to be a basic geld assessment for a Yorkshire vill at Domesday, thus re- 
enforcing the appropriateness of an assessment of 48 oxgangs. 20 

(2) THE RELATIONSHIP IN FLAXTON OF TWO OXGANGS TO ONE TENEMENT 
AT DOMESDAY 

There is evidence from across the country that at the time of the Domesday survey the size 
of a standard peasant’s holding in arable areas was a yardland in much of the south of the 
country and two oxgangs in the north, in each case usually totalling around thirty acres in 
extent, though the actual area could vaiy quite considerably depending upon a number of 
factors. 21 But does the evidence from Flaxton support this thinking? 

It is appropriate to consider the four holdings in the Domesday survey, but first to look 
briefly at the situation at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries. 

At the Dissolution, nine religious foundations held property in Flaxton. Of these, St 
Mary’s abbey, York, held the Domesday holding of count Alan’s soke in the township, and 
the prior of Hexham held the holding of the archbishop, with the remaining seven holdings 
all appearing to stem - some certainly and some less so - from the holding of the king; leaving 
only the holding of Hugh son of Baldric outside the fold of the church. 

There are surveys as at the Dissolution for six of the nine foundations; (1) St Mary’s abbey, 
York; (2) St Andrew’s priory, York; (3) Marton priory; (4) Kirkham priory; (5) Nunburnholme 
priory; and (6) the Chantry of our Lady, the parish of St John the Baptist at Ouse Bridge End, 
York: No surveys have been discovered for (1) Durham College, Oxford; (2) Hexham priory; 
or (3) the Chapel of St Helen, Wilton (this was a very small holding only). 22 

COUNT ALAN’S HOLDING 

As far as count Alan’s Foston soke of one and a half carucates or twelve oxgangs in Flaxton 
is concerned, the evidence for six plots or tenements has been set out in detail in the earlier 
article by the author referred to above (footnote 4) and it will not be repeated here at length. 
Briefly, count Stephen, successor to count Alan, granted the manor of Foston together with 
its Flaxton soke to the abbot of St Mary’s, York, with whom it remained until the dissolution 
of the abbey. The survey at the time of the Dissolution listed six tenements and eleven 


20 D. M. Palliser, ‘An Introduction to the Yorkshire Domesday’, in A. Williams, ed., The Yorkshire 
Domesday (1992), vol.l, p. 16. 

21 Palliser, ‘Introduction’, p. 15. 

22 TNA, SC6/27-28HENVIII/4519 m.l; SC6/27-28HENVIII/4493 m.ld; SC6/30-31HENVIII/ 
4557m.2; SC6/30-31HENVIII/4563 m.l; SC6/31-32HENVIII/4595 m.10; W. Page, ed., ‘The 
Certificates of the Commissioners appointed to survey the Chantries, Guilds, Hospitals, etc. in 
the County of York’, Surtees Society , 91 (1894), p.79. 


FLAXTON 


67 


oxgangs, but later evidence indicated that there must actually have been twelve oxgangs. 23 
The evidence of the relationship of two oxgangs to one tenement at Domesday is inferential, 
dating as it does from the time of the Dissolution and later, but is not to be discounted. 


THE KING’S HOLDING 

While there is no further specific reference subsequent to Domesday to the Flaxton holding, 
the king’s twenty oxgangs in Flaxton appear to have been granted to the Fossards as part of 
the manor of Sheriff Hutton, and then re-granted, first to the Turnhams and then to the 
Mauleys, as successive lords of the manor of Mulgrave. 24 In 1331 the then Peter de Mauley 
the elder released his interest in the manor of Sheriff Hutton, which in this context again 
seems to have included Flaxton, to Sir Ralph de Nevill of Raby and Sheriff Hutton, whose 
family had held under the Mauleys and their predecessors since the latter part of the twefth 
century when Geoffrey de Nevill had married Emma, daughter of Bertram de Bulmer of 
Sheriff Hutton. 25 

The Nevills (and perhaps the Mauleys while holding in chief) seem, over the years, to have 
granted all their lands in Flaxton to religious institutions, while at the same time retaining 
their manorial interest. Certainly the Nevills gave 1 1 % oxgangs to St Andrew’s, York, in 1359 
and a further 2 oxgangs to Durham College, Oxford, at the time of its foundation in 1384. 26 
The remaining 6V2 of the king’s 20 oxgangs found their way by means largely unknown, two 
each, into the hands of Marton priory, Nunburnholme priory, and a chantry in York, with 
small, non-oxgang holdings going to Kirkham priory and, through a gift as late as 1529 by Sir 
William Bulmer, to a chapel in Wilton in Cleveland (ajohn de Bulmer had held land from the 
Nevills in Wilton in Cleveland in 1281 -2). 2/ 

The relevant surveys at the time of the Dissolution of the monasteries give the following: 


Priory of St Andrew, York 
Priory of Marton 
Priory of Nunburnholme 

Priory of Kirkham 

Chantry of Our Lady, Parish of 

St John the Baptist at Ouse Bridge End 


6 tenements with IH/2 oxgangs; 

1 tenement with 2 oxgangs; 

1 tenement with 2 oxgangs and 
3 parcels of Forbyland; 

1 tenement; 

1 tenement with 2 oxgangs. 

tenements with a few acres. 


No survey has been found for the Chapel 

of St Helen’s, Wilton, but a lease of 1564 relates to 2 


23 Early Yorkshire Charters, 4, ed. C. T. Clay (1935), p.4; TNA, SC6/31-32HENVIII/4595 mm. 1, 
10; LR1/171 Liber E, F, G, fol. 44; East Riding of Yorkshire Archive and Record Service, DDEL35/ 
1, Langton MSS: Bourne, YAJ, 74, pp. 162-5. 

24 VCH, p. 176. 

25 Calendar Ancient Deeds, 2, p.38, B3259. 

26 TNA, C143/328/7; CPR 7 Richard 2 Pt. 2, m. 28. 

27 J. Raine, ed., ‘Testamenta Eboracensia. A Selections of Wills from the Registry at York, vol. V’, 
Surtees Society, 79 (1884), pp.306-19. 


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Neither has a survey been found for Durham 
College, Oxford, but presumably as 

originally granted 1 tenement with 2 oxgangs. 

TOTAL 13 tenements and 19D oxgangs. 

Thus the king’s Domesday holding of 20 oxgangs can be identified at the Dissolution with 
(1) 10 tenements with 191/2 oxgangs and 3 parcels of Forbyland and (2) 3 tenements with a few 
acres. 

If there are problems, they are tw'ofold. First, that in the list of knights’ fees of 1302-3, 
mentioned earlier, Ranulph de Nevill was stated to hold 3 carucates in Flaxton from Peter de 
Mauley, whereas on the face of it the holding should have been 2Vi carucates only. This 
remains an anomaly. Secondly the grant to St Andrew’s, York, of 1359 was of ‘10 tofts and 
1 1 ‘/ 2 bovates’. This suggests some flexibility over the years in the number of tofts, with tofts 
being sub-divided or amalgamated as needs arose. 

THE ARCHBISHOP’S HOLDING 

In the twelfth century the archbishop’s holding of six oxgangs was granted by archbishop 
Thurston to the prior of Hexham as part of the prebend of Salton and was held by the priory 
until its dissolution. 28 A terrier, said to date from 1294-5, stated that the prebendary had ‘in 
Flaxton three tenements each with two oxgangs paying in total 66s. 8d’. 29 Another terrier, 
also undated but said to date from the latter half of the fifteenth century, refers to ‘two 
tenements with six oxgangs, of which one tenement with two oxgangs was occupied by John 
Place at the east side of the town at the south end and the other tenement with four oxgangs 
by William Watson next to it to the north’: It would seem that two tenements had been 
amalgamated since the time of the earlier document. 30 Finally, there is the Black Book of 
Hexham, a 1479 survey of the priory’s lands. The information contained in the document 
was derived from returns provided to the priory over a period of at least two years before 
that date. Presumably it post-dated the second terrier above, but it cannot have been by long. 
Now a Richard, not John, Place occupied ‘per cartam’ a toft and one oxgang described as 
‘libera firma’. In addition five oxgangs, estimated at fifteen acres each and described as ‘de 
bond’, were held by Richard Place (again) with two tofts and two oxgangs, and a William 
Raynerson with two tofts and three oxgangs. 31 Thus, all three terriers confirm the continuation 
of the six oxgangs, initially with three tenements, reducing to two and then increasing to 
five. No survey of the prebendary estate has been found for the Dissolution. However, 
following the dissolution of the priory the prebendaiy estate was granted by the king to Lord 
Eure for services rendered. The grant makes no mention of the Flaxton element but it seems 
certain that it must have been included as, by two separate fines of 1620, a subsequent Lord 
Eure disposed of (1) land, approximately the equivalent of the six oxgangs, in Flaxton to a 


28 J. Raine, ed., ‘The Priory of Hexham, its Title Deeds, Black Book, etc., vol.II, Surtees Society, 
46 (1864), p.vii 

29 Raine, ‘Hexham’, p.84; . T. A. M. Bishop, ed., ‘Extents of the Prebends of York, c. 1 295’, 
Miscellanea , IV, YAS Record Series, 94 (1936), p. 1 7. 

30 Raine, ‘Hexham’, p. 155. 

31 Raine, ‘Hexham’, pp.80-1. 


FLAXTON 


69 


Timothy Draper esquire, an unidentified, non-Flaxton individual and (2) two messuages and 
some small parcels of land to Thomas Grave and Marmaduke Skaylinge, members of two 
long-standing Flaxton families, perhaps the sitting tenants. 32 It is possible that there had been 
other, so far undiscovered, disposals of tenements earlier; more likely the number of tenements 
had simply reverted to the position referred to in the second terrier mentioned above. 

HUGH’S HOLDING 

The fourth Domesday holding was that of Hugh son of Baldric, and for this there is no 
evidence one way or the other that relates to the thinking that the typical Flaxton holding was 
represented by one tenement and two oxgangs. However, it is worth pointing out that the 
deed of gift of c.1290, referred to above, specifically stated that Richard de Dunstapel’s tofts 
(in the plural) were excluded from the grant, which leaves open the possibility that prior to 
the gift there had been two tofts with the half carucate (4 oxgangs) of land included in the gift. 

OTHER EXAMPLES 

A charter of 1293 of Laurence de Boutham, in the cartulary of St Mary’s, York, concerned 
with a toft and croft and three oxgangs, described the toft and croft as lying ‘between lands 
of the prior and convent of Marton and the lands of Robert de Dunstapel’, with two of the 
oxgangs as lying ‘between lands of the said prior and lands of Agnes le Gra and the said 
Robert’ and the third oxgang between lands of Walter son of Isaac on one side and Simon his 
brother on the other. 33 This suggests that the toft and the first two oxgangs were an original 
holding while the third oxgang was a separate acquisition. In the same cartulary is a series of 
charters of c.1316 relating to one toft with a croft and one oxgang and again involving the 
Isaac family, and it is tempting to conclude that the oxgang concerned is the same as or, better 
still, had at one time been paired with one or other of the neighbouring ‘Isaac’ oxgangs in the 
earlier charter. 34 

Finally there is a fine of 1252 between Gilbert de Speton, petitioner, and William de 
Barton, tenant, relating to one toft and two oxgangs of land with appurtenances in Flaxton. 35 

CONCLUSION 

So much for the evidence that in Flaxton a typical holding at Domesday was one tenement 
and two oxgangs. None of it dates back to the Domesday survey itself None indeed to within 
150 years of Domesday Yet it is, perhaps, in its own way, quite compelling and difficult to 
argue against. For why should such a pattern of one tenement to two oxgangs emerge if it 
were not indeed created at the outset ? 


32 TNA, C66/765.17 26HENVIII; CP25/2/382/17JAS1, EASTER. 

33 YMA, XVI A.l, f. 170. 

34 YMA, XVI A.l, f.75. 

35 TNA, CP25/1/265/45 no.121. 


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(3) THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE NUMBER OF TENEMENTS AND THE 
LENGTH OF THE FRONTAGE IN FLAXTON 

A simplified plan of the settlement including the Green and the Crofts and some of the 
adjoining land, adapted from the Ordnance Survey 1/2500-scale edition of 1911 (Fig 2). 

Flaxton is essentially a single-row settlement, facing south-west over its Green. To the rear 
of the tenements and their garths is a Back Lane and over the lane is a series of Crofts. 
However, before considering the single-row settlement it is appropriate to look briefly at 
another area of the present village. Lying on the opposite side of the Green from the single 
row of tenements and, at first sight, seemingly taken partly out of the Green and partly out of 
what was the common or moor to the south-west, are two enclosures (outlined in bold on the 
plan). (1) The first enclosure comprises the present church, its churchyard and rectory (OS 
167/168) and the site of two tenements (OS 169 and 170), the south-easterly one of which is 
now occupied by a property known as Draft Farm. The present church is on the site of a 
chapel-of-ease, dedicated like the church to St Lawrence, which had existed since certainly 
before 1316 when the chapel and both tenements were mentioned in a series of charters 
relating to the Draft Farm site. 36 The tenement site between the Draft Farm site and the 
chapel yard was occupied at the time by ‘the parson’s man’, and this site together with the 
Draft Farm site were both held from the prior of Kirkham. The two corners of the enclosure 
on its south-west side, against what used to be the common or moor of Flaxton, are rounded, 
a familiar indication of ancient enclosures from moor land. (2) The second enclosure (OS 
224), lies a little to the north-west and is similarly orientated, comprising a single tenement 
now known as Firtree House and also having rounded corners against the common or moor. 
It is likely to be of the same date or thereabouts. Unlike the single row of tenements on the 
other side of the Green, none of the three tenements has a croft attaching to it (the apparent 
croft to the rear of the Draft Farm site is an eighteenth century creation). It is suggested that 
these two enclosures, early though they might seem to be, are not original to the planned 
settlement and that the original planned settlement is restricted to the single row of tenements 
to the north-east of the Green. This suggestion is discussed further in section (4) below. It is 
also suggested that the Draft Farm plot would originally have been occupied by whoever 
farmed the vicar’s two oxgangs and the plot between the last and the chapel site by the vicar’s 
curate or chaplain. 

Taken from the 1911 edition of the Ordnance Survey to a scale of 1/2500, and also checked 
on the ground, the overall length of the frontage of what is believed to be the probable 
original planned settlement is 2,445 feet (745 metres). The terminal points used for the 
measurement also existed, and made equal sense, on the 1856 edition of the 1/10560-scale 
Ordnance Survey and on the 1844 Tithe Award 1/2500-scale plan. 3/ The south-eastern 
terminal point of the original settlement is clear and unambiguous on the ground and was 
adjoined by a part of the common or moor of Flaxton which was allotted at enclosure to the 
vicar of Bossall. The north-western terminal point is likewise clear, being adjoined by a close 
(OS 231/117) with ridge-and-furrow lands which extend from the northern corner of the 


36 YMA, XVI A.l, ff.331-3. 

37 BI, TA 432 M, Flaxton tithe award. 


FLAXTON 


71 



Fig.2. Plan of Flaxton settlement 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Crofts through almost to the Green; and which probably once extended to the Green but are 
now terminated by a stackyard extension, present since certainly 1844, and a recent housing 
development. While a measurement of 2,445 feet is overlong, it is suggested it represents an 
acceptable length of frontage for 24 plots each of 100 feet (albeit incorporating an anomaly) 
based on a unit of five rods each of 20 feet: 24 plots accords with the proportion of one 
tenement to two oxgangs and the anticipated total of 48 oxgangs in the township. The 
alternative of a base unit of six rods each of 17 feet (2448 feet overall) has been considered 
but does not fit well when checked against the 1911 plot boundaries. 38 

The frontage can be divided into three sections: 

A north-west section with a frontage of 645 feet. 

A middle, Foston section (as recorded on the Tithe Award map of 1844), of 600 feet. 

A south-east section of 1200 feet. 

The Foston section extends to one quarter of the frontage, ignoring the anomalous 45 feet, 
thus according precisely to the proportion which the number of Foston oxgangs bore to the 
anticipated whole (12:48). 

It will be noted that the frontage of the settlement includes a narrow roadway (indeed 
named as Narrow Lane in the enclosure award) known as Barney Lane, leading from the 
Green through to the Back Lane and the Crofts, and to a track marked on the Ordnance 
Survey maps of 1856 and 1911 as ‘Malton Lane’, about which little is known and even when 
so named did not extend to the township boundary. (In the enclosure award of 1658 this 
track was named as Middlegate and, by its description, seems to have served as no more than 
a way to the large block of land to the east). There is a narrow strip of land to either side of 
Barney Lane, and these two strips and Barney Lane have between them a frontage of 
approximately 100 feet to the Green; the equivalent of an original plot. This equivalence is 
not considered to be a coincidence, The lane may have been part of the original planned 
settlement with the narrow plots to either side being later encroachments. In this event, the 
built-frontage will have been 100 feet less and the number of plots reduced to 23 only. 
However this would imply only 46 oxgangs against the 48 anticipated, and accordingly this 
thinking is discarded. Alternatively Barney Lane was inserted at the expense of one plot at 
the same time as the Back Lane was created, and this thought is pursued in section (4) below. 

Many centuries have passed since the Domesday survey, and many changes have taken 
place over the years. However, an examination of Fig 3 gives broad support to the thesis of 
24 original plots each with a frontage of 100 feet, with many of the 1911 property boundaries 
being coincident with the anticipated plot boundaries. The individual plots have been 
numbered on the Plan from 1 to 24, starting at the north-west end of the settlement. Plots 5 
and 6 have been conjoined for reasons explained below. 


38 


C. C. Taylor: Personal communication on plot widths based on a multiple of rods. 


FLAXTON 


73 



Fig.3. Plan of Flaxton settlement (detail) 



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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


At this juncture it may be as well to pause a moment and marshal what is known about the 
distribution of the Domesday holdings in the settlement: 

(1) The 6 Foston tenements of count Alan are grouped together and confirmed as 
Plots 7-12. 

(2) The 3 Hexham priory tenements of the archbishop are grouped together and are ‘at 
the east side of the town at the south end’ (Interpreted as meaning ‘at the south-east end of 
the town 1 ). 

From the above it is reasonable to expect (and this is critical to much that follows) that: 

(3) The 10 tenements of the king and the 5 tenements of Hugh son of Baldric will also each 
be grouped together. 

A quick count of the number and position of the remaining plots available will soon make 
it apparent that if (1) and (2) above are correct, (3) is not feasible. At the north-west end of 
the town there are 6 plots available, both too many and too few to make sense, and at the 
south-east end there are only 12 plots available, including Plot 17 - insufficient for the 10 
tenements of the king and the 3 tenements of the archbishop. The problem can however be 
resolved if the 10 plots are considered not as the king’s but as those of the three thanes. 
When this is done, Plots 1-6 and 13-16 are available for the 10 tenements of the three thanes 
and Plots 17-24 for the 8 tenements of Hugh and the archbishop. This solution is adopted 
below. 

To return to the description of the plots: plots 1-6 of 645 feet, at the north-west end of the 
settlement, present a problem. However one looks at them, the plot boundaries do not fit 
comfortably overall with the boundaries recorded on the 1911 Ordnance Survey map, nor 
with those on either of the earlier maps, nor with an expected frontage of 600 feet for six 
plots. One possibility is that at the very outset of the planning one or two plots were created 
wider than the others. Given that the plots formed part of the holdings of the three thanes, 
rather than of the king, it is perhaps possible that either one or two of the thanes might have 
been allotted such a benefit. This solution makes the best sense on the ground, with Plots 1 
to 4 fitting modestly well to the module on the basis that Plot 4 has absorbed half of Plot 3; 
this last accords well with what is known about the history of Flaxton House, the property 
concerned. This leaves approaching two and a half plot widths for Plots 5 and 6 but with no 
sensible indication on the ground of where the division between the two plots might have 
been. The problem remains unresolved, and on the attached plan Plots 5 and 6 have been 
conjoined and allotted a frontage of 245 feet. 

Continuing south-easterly, Plots 7-16 inclusive, as can be seen from the Plan, fit well to the 
module, with any apparent anomalies simply explained. Plots 7 and 8 fit well. Plot 10 has 
expanded at some time to take in half of Plots 9 and 11 to either side. Plots 12 and 13, the 
first in Foston and the second in Bossall, have long been combined into a double plot, now 
known as Beech Tree Farm (in 1841, at the time of the enquiry leading to the tithe award, the 
then farmhouse was described at one of the hearings prior to the award being made as ‘partly 
in Bossall & partly in Foston 1 ). 39 Plots 14-16 fit well, though the last has been divided into 
two. 


39 TNA, IR 18/11971, Tithe Files. 


FLAXTON 


75 


The overall frontage of Plots 17 to 24 is 800 feet, which fits well with eight plots. Plot 17, 
the Barney Lane plot, fits well to the module. Plots 18 and 19 appear to have been amalgamated. 
Thereafter the individual plot boundaries are largely lost; and alterations within Hugh’s 
Domesday holding, subsequently de Stuteville, may account for this. 

The history of Hugh’s holding in Flaxton, as part of the manor of Buttercrambe, has been 
traced in Section (1) above from Domesday forward to 1426. Thereafter the picture is 
confused, but the Flaxton element seems to reappear as part of, or in some way attached to, 
the manor of Bossall which at Domesday was a berewick of the manor of Scrayingham, 
which in turn was also held by Hugh and subsequently the de Stutevilles. The histoiy of the 
manor of Bossall can be traced back in time through a series of deeds to 1392 but the earliest 
reference to Flaxton is not until 1613, when an interest in the manor of Bossall was conveyed 
to a William Belt and others, and included in the conveyance was undifferentiated property 
in Bossall and in four townships within Bossall parish including Flaxton. By 1648 the manor 
of Bossall and its appurtenances were in the hands of Sir Robert Belt who, because of his 
royalist sympathies, was subsequently dispossessed of Bossall Hall; whereupon he moved to 
Flaxton and later died there. In 1659, the year after the enclosure award, a property transaction 
between Sir Robert’s sons included: ‘one other messuage one croft and garth and one hundred 
and forty three acres of land ... in Flaxton on the Moor’. 40 The 143 acres were identified on 
the ground in the enclosure award of the previous year and were divided approximately 
60:40 between the former open field and the common respectively, the open field part being 
equivalent to some 6 oxgangs, each of 15 acres (the area for an oxgang in Flaxton as stated 
in the Black Book of 1479 of Hexham priory, mentioned earlier). Only one messuage is 
mentioned in the deed of 1659 and this seems to have collapsed or been pulled down by the 
time the Belt family sold its Flaxton estate in 1827 (sometime between 1811 and 1827 a new 
farmstead had been built on the former open field land). The original messuage is identified 
from subsequent memorials of conveyances as standing within Plot 21 and half of Plot 22. 41 

It should be noted at this point that the Belt property appears to account for 6 oxgangs 
only and not the 10 oxgangs which it was concluded earlier were in Hugh’s original Domesday 
holding. This casts some doubt on the assumption that the Belt property stems from Hugh’s 
Domesday holding. However, it is quite possible that, at some time over the centuries, some 
of Hugh’s holding had been severed and gone elsewhere. 

The archbishop, later Hexham priory, also had 3 plots in this area because, as mentioned 
earlier, John Place’s tofts were specifically described in the latter half of the fifteenth century 
as being ‘at the east side of the town at the south end’. Taken literally this implies that Plots 
22-24 belonged to the priory. However that cannot be the case if Plot 21 and half of Plot 22 
have been correctly identified as part of the Hugh’s holding. Thus it must be assumed that 
the reference must have been to that part of the township which lay towards the south-east 
end of the town and not at the extreme end. Thus Plots 17-19 must be allocated to the 
archbishop, and Plots 20-24 to Hugh. 


40 BI, MOR3-37. 

41 North Yorkshire County Record Office [hereafter NYCRO], MIC 339 FK64/41. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


The above arrangement is supported by three further pieces of evidence. Firstly, let us 
look again at ( 1 ) Laurence de Boutham’s charter of 1 293 and (2) the Black Book of Hexham 
priory of 1479. Laurence’s charter described the toft and croft as lying ‘between lands of the 
prior and convent of Marton and the lands of Robert de Dunstapel’, with two of the oxgangs 
as lying ‘between lands of the said prior and lands of Agnes le Gra and the said Robert’. This 
is a clear example, despite one of the neighbouring oxgangs no longer being entirely in de 
Dunstapel hands, of Solskifte or sun-division, the system whereby neighbours in the 
settlement were also neighbours in the fields and furlongs of the township. 42 Another, partial, 
example is in the Black Book, in that the lands of the five oxgangs held ‘de bond’ by Place and 
Raynerson were described as ‘lying everywhere between the lands of Richard Bernard and 
the lands of the nuns of Burnholme’, carrying with it the implication that the holdings of 
Place and Raynerson lay between the same neighbours. In this event, their tofts cannot have 
been Plots 22-24 as there would have been no neighbour to the south-east. Secondly, the 
arrangement also allows the nuns to have Plot 16, which makes sense in that their holding 
appears to have stemmed via the Nevills from the king’s Domesday holding: Richard Bernard 
on the other side will have been a tenant of a de Stuteville tenement. Thirdly, it will be noted 
from the plan that the boundary between Plots 19 and 20 is the only one at this end of the 
town to be correctly positioned, albeit not precisely, thus preserving on the ground the 
ancient boundary between the two holdings of the Domesday survey. 

CONCLUSION 

To summarise : while there are anomalies, particularly towards the north-west end of the 
settlement, the overall picture is of a planned settlement of 24 tenements laid out in a single 
row on one side of the Green and with a plot frontage of five rods each of 20 feet ( with either 
one, or possibly two, over-sized plots), vestiges of which remain and are still to be seen. It is 
known that the Foston soke tenements were grouped together at Plots 7-12. It has been 
surmised above that the archbishop s tenements were Plots 17-19 and Hugh ’s 20-24. The 
ten tenements of the king, stemming as they did from the holdings of three thanes, will have 
been Plots 1-6 and Plots 13-16, with two of the thanes probably holding Plots 1-6 and the 
third thane holding Plots 13-16. 

(4) THE SEQUENCE OF EVENTS AND THEIR DATING 

This subject was looked at briefly in the earlier article by the author, but now needs to be 
considered again. Two documents, both referred to earlier, are of particular help in this. 
These are: (1) the copy, incomplete though it is, of the enclosure award of 1658, which was 
not available when the earlier article was written; and (2) the Black Book of Hexham priory 
of 1479. 

The copy of the enclosure award names four open fields: the Girnol Field, the Broad Field, 
the Croft Field and the South Field (the only known reference to the South Field) and, when 
describing the whereabouts of each allotment in the fields, the award names the field and the 


42 B. K. Roberts and S. Wrathmell, Regions and Places - A Study of English rural settlement, 
English Heritage (2002), pp. 119-25; C. Lewis, P. Mitchell-Fox and C. Dyer, Village Hamlet and 
Field ’ (Cambridge, 1997), p.20. 


FLAXTON 


77 


furlong out of which the allotment was awarded. 

The Black Book names two fields only; the Brod-feld and the Croft-feld but starts by listing 
three furlongs identified as being in the South Field and then, working clockwise continues 
with listing the furlongs identified as being in the Girnol Field, though without naming the 
field, then the furlongs in the Brod-feld and finally the furlongs in the Croft-feld. The priory’s 
lands lay in 36 named furlongs, and the acreage occupied by the priory’s tenants in each 
furlong is quoted. The names of 4 adjoining furlongs in the Brod-feld are also quoted, giving 
a total of 40 names, of which the whereabouts of 31 are known. Some of the furlongs named 
in the Black Book are not mentioned in the copy of the enclosure award, but this is largely 
because they lie within areas of the open fields allotted to Sir Thomas Norcliffe, the principal 
absentee landlord and the prime mover behind the decision to enclose, or to John Marshall, 
the most substantial freeholder resident in the township, none of whose allotments is 
described in the incomplete copy of the award. 

Eleven of the 40 furlongs named in the Black Book, all but one in either the Girnol Field or 
the Brod-feld , have names suggestive of assarting: Stobkeldes, in the South Field; Hagge- 
brekes and Thwaitesm the Girnol Field; and Ayk-buskes, Brakan-hill, Westil-carris , Yle-carr , 
North-brek, West-brek, Wandales and Brotes in the Brod-feld. These furlongs, excluding 
Stobkeldes , represent around half the furlongs in the Girnol Field and Brod-feld. Given that 
(1) the township was assessed in the Domesday survey at 48 oxgangs, and there were in 
addition the 2 oxgangs of glebe, and (2) that the number was unchanged at 50 oxgangs at 
enclosure in 1658, it is difficult to understand how this assarting could have taken place 
after Domesday. Further, it is established that the 12 oxgangs of count Alan’s soke in Flaxton 
remained unchanged at enclosure and that the 6 oxgangs of the archbishop remained 
unchanged at least until 1479. Overall, the conclusion must be that the assarting took place 
before Domesday. However, is it reasonable to identify the 48 fiscal bovates or oxgangs at 
Domesday with the corresponding 48 tenurial oxgangs at enclosure? Certainly Flaxton is 
not the only township with this experience. For example, Kilham in the East Riding had 384 
fiscal bovates (the basic unit of 6 carucates multiplied by eight) at Domesday and the same 
number of oxgangs at enclosure in 1729. This cannot be just a coincidence, and it seems safe 
to conclude that the identification can be made. 43 

Is it also reasonable to conclude that the open-field system was also in place at the time of 
the Domesday survey as well as at enclosure? As mentioned in section (3), there is good 
evidence in Flaxton for the institution of Solskifte, or sun-division, the system whereby 
neighbours in the settlement were also neighbours in the fields and furlongs of the township. 
The system is Scandinavian in origin and it is logical that the first and early introductions of 
open field systems based on Solsklfte will have had at least some Scandinavian settlers, or 
their lords, as the moving spirits behind the reorganisation. Flaxton is geographically in the 


43 D. M. Palliser: ‘Introduction’, p. 19., citing M. Harvey, ‘Open field structure and landholding 
arrangements in Eastern Yorkshire’, Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers , n.s.9 
(1984), pp. 60-74 and ‘The development of open fields in the central Vale of York: a reconsideration’, 
Geografiska Annaler, 67B (1985), pp. 35-44. Also Palliser, pp. 15-19 for a general discussion on 
assessments and measurements. However, Professor Palliser might not accept the further conclusion 
that the open-field system also dates from before the Domesday survey, or even the Conquest. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


heart of the Danelaw and accordingly is likely to have been one of the earlier settlements to 
reorganise on this basis. In addition, Ulfr, one of the lords of Flaxton at the Conquest, was 
also one of the most important Danish lords in the North and East Ridings at the time. 
Bearing in mind Flaxton’s position within the Danelaw, it is also more than possible that the 
three thanes were Scandinavian and not Saxon. 

The conclusion is that the open-field system is more likely to have been in place by 
Domesday and ' indeed, by the Conquest, than later. However, this does not necessarily 
imply that the planned settlement was also in place by then; and the remainder of this section 
is devoted to considering this further aspect, and to do so requires an examination of how 
the Crofts, the Back Lane and the Green fit with the planned settlement, and a reconsideration 
of the chapel complex and the adjacent early enclosure of the Firtree House site. 

THE CROFTS 

The extent of the Crofts is outlined in bold on the plan. The Crofts are now a series of 
small enclosed fields, largely but not entirely in ridge-and-furrow, varying in width from two 
to eleven ridges or, locally, lands. It is not known for certain when the fields of the Crofts 
were first fenced or hedged off from each other, but it would seem from the wording of 
various deeds and memorials to have been no later than about the time of the enclosure 
award of 1658. However, for a long time before enclosure the Croft furlong clearly differed 
in some respect from the other furlongs in the open fields of Flaxton. For example, the 
enclosure award alloted no land in either the Croft furlong or the Crofts, and only mentioned 
the Crofts in the context of new allotments lying adjoining the Crofts. Again, the Black Book 
describes the priory’s selions (strips of arable land) in every single case as being on a particular 
furlong except in the case of the Crofts where the description is in the Crofts. It is also clear 
that the six original Foston tenements had a total of 24 ridges or lands attaching to them in 
the Crofts. This is made abundantly clear in the early terriers, mentioned above, listing the 
right to tithes of the rector of Foston: In 1685, 27 years after enclosure, the rector was 
entitled to ‘the tith of eight houses & orchards & 24 lea lands in crofts in Flaxton aforesaid’: 
In 1716 the entitlement was ‘the tyth of 24 croft lands’ (no mention of houses); and finally, in 
1727, ‘likewise 24 crofts which are tythable to the said Rectory. There are 6 houses & a half 
which pay tythe to the Rector’ (the half house of 1727 no doubt refers to the house, referred 
to above, divided between Foston and Bossall at the time of the tithe award, and suggests that 
its building took place sometime between 1685 and 1727). The variable number of houses 
will have reflected the changing position on the ground; with houses being built, divided, 
converted into or out of farm buildings or demolished as needed. Finally, as far as Foston is 
concerned, the Foston lands in the Crofts were immediately to the rear of the Foston tenements 
and comprised 24 lands, allowing for four lands, or two acres as it happens, to each of the 
original six plots. 

The Black Book provides further support. The standard phrasing in the text is, for example, 
‘In the Croft-feld ... on the Schol-Brades 1 Nacres’. In only one instance is this varied, and 
this is where the words ‘in two places’ are added at the end of the phrase - thus: ‘In the Brod- 
feld ... on the Brotes in two places 6 acres’. In the case of the Crofts, the wording is ‘In the 
Croft-feld in the Crofts 6 acres’; the inference being that the lands in the Crofts were in one 
place. Again the relationship is two acres to a tenement and the conclusion is that the six 


FLAXTON 


79 


acres lay immediately to the rear of the priory’s tenements. 

The Crofts extend to approximately 50 acres overall and comprise 93 lands. Ideally for 24 
tenements there would be 96 lands with each tenement being allotted 4 lands, but as the 
Croft furlong with its lands of variable width would already have existed when the lands 
were allotted to the individual tenements there must have been an element of give and take 
in the widths of the various allotments. There is the further problem, as can be seen from the 
plan, in that the length (and thus the area) of the individual Crofts is distinctly variable with, 
for example, those towards the south end of the town, being shorter than the others. 
Nevertheless, the conclusion must be that at some time in the past each of the 24 tenements 
would have been allotted a portion of the Crofts immediately over the Back Lane 
corresponding as near as practicable to the width of the tenement. 

It is worth considering how the south-west boundary of the present Crofts compare with 
the probable south-west boundary of the original Croft furlong. Marked on the plan (Fig 2) 
with bold broken lines are the boundaries before enclosure of the common or moor of the 
township, with ( 1 ) the Girnol Field and (2) the Croft Field. Also marked, but with a bold dot- 
and-dash broken line, is the boundaiy between the Croft and Broad Fields as indicated by 
the enclosure award, but with one exception. The enclosure award includes the close 
(OS 231/117) as part of the Broad Field. However the plan includes it in the Croft Field in the 
belief that this close would originally have been part of the Croft Field and would have been 
transferred to the Broad Field only on becoming detached from the rest of the Croft Field 
when the individual Croft lands where allotted to the tenements of the planned settlement. It 
is perhaps surprising that the furlong immediately to the north-east of the main block of the 
Crofts is indicated by the enclosure award as being in the Broad Field (as do the furlongs 
beyond it), and no explanation is currently offered for this. 

It is therefore tentatively suggested that the original boundary between the Croft furlong 
and the common or moor to the south-west would have followed a line from the western 
corner of the close ( OS 231/117) through the middle of the planned settlement to the junction 
of the common or moor with the Croft Field at the south-east end of the settlement. This 
boundary is marked on the plan by a thin straight line. No evidence on the ground has been 
found for this conclusion but perhaps this is scarcely surprising, bearing in mind that any 
headland would probably have been removed as the development of the new settlement 
proceeded, and certainly there is no reason to think that the line was necessarily straight. 

THE BACK LANE 

Back lanes are frequently encountered with planned villages in North Yorkshire (a good 
example is Stillington, a double-row settlement, each row facing on to the Green and each 
with its own back lane), so there is nothing surprising in finding the Back Lane at Flaxton. 
However, Flaxton Back Lane does not conform to the usual pattern, in that it goes nowhere. 
At its north-west end it terminates abruptly at the broad ridge-and-furrow of the close (OS 
231 & 117), mentioned above, which runs from the back of the Crofts through to the Green 
and which helped define the north-west extremity of the planned settlement. It is interesting 
that, at enclosure, four specific freeholders were granted rights of access over this close from 
the Green to the Back Lane; confirming, as the grant does, that there was no general village 
right of way beyond the end of the Back Lane. At the south-east end the Back Lane also 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL, 


terminates at the open field (no extant ridge-and-furrow), being cut off by a flat in the Croft 
Field, already part of the vicar’s glebe before enclosure, and allotted to him at enclosure. 
Thus the only access to the Back Lane, other than from the garths to one side and the Crofts 
to the other, is along the narrow lane now known as Barney Lane, part of the erstwhile Plot 
17. There are two further peculiarities about the Back Lane which, taken together, make 
some form of sense. The first is that the ridge-and-furrow in the Crofts terminates at the 
Back Lane with no evidence of any headland (The Belt croft, mentioned earlier, in Hugh’s 
section of the settlement, does indeed have a headland immediately on the north-east side of 
the Back Lane. However the lands in the Crofts to either side of it extend right to the Back 
Lane; perhaps indicating that this Croft continued under the plough after the creation of the 
Back Lane, resulting in the need for its own new headland). The second is that there is 
intermittent evidence on the ground, for the north-western half of the Back Lane, of what 
appears to be a former headland still existing, close to, but on the south-west, or wrong, side 
of the Lane. The extent of its presence is marked by a broken line on the plan. However, it 
will be realised that, if the suggestion at the end of the previous paragraph is correct, this 
headland cannot be the original headland of the Croft furlong, as this would have been 
appreciably further to the south-west. To solve this problem it is suggested that the headland 
under discussion was formed after the planned settlement had been imposed on the south- 
western part of the Croft furlong, but subsequently became superfluous when it was decided, 
for whatever reason, to create the present Back Lane. 44 

The conclusion is that the Back Lane at Flaxton was created at a time when both the open 
fields and the planned settlement already existed; a back lane going nowhere and laid out on 
top of the, by then, already shortened lands of the Croft furlong. This would have provided 
the occasion to create Barney Lane at the expense of Plot 17 (the occupier of Plot 17 might 
have been compensated by being provided with a new plot between the chapel complex and 
the Firtree House plot) in order to provide access to the Back Lane from the Green. There 
are two further conclusions: (1) that the planned single-row^ settlement is later than the open- 
field system, and (2) that, after the creation of the Back Lane, the Crofts, with the one 
exception of the Belt croft, were taken out of arable cultivation and laid down to grass, 
remaining as such thereafter; otherwise a third headland would have been required. 

THE GREEN 

The Green at Flaxton is in the shape of an inverted and reversed L, with the foot of the L, 
known as the Kell, being at the north-west end of the settlement and extending to the west. 
The foot of the L, together with that part of the upright of the L from which it springs, is 
beyond what it has been concluded above is the north-west end of the original planned 
settlement but adjoins the former boundary of the Girnol Field. 

The first known specific reference to the word ‘Green’ at Flaxton is not until well after 
enclosure. However, there is mention in a will of 1601, 57 years before the enclosure award, 
of ‘gates’, or grazing rights, going with a particular house in the village; and subsequent to 
enclosure there were 34 such gates on the Green. It is not known whether the gates in the 
will of 1601 related to grazing rights on the Green or on the common or moor at large. 45 

44 C. C. Taylor, Personal communication. 

45 BI, MIC 28/529. 


FLAXTON 


81 


The reason for the existence of the Kell may lie with the watering of stock. There are three 
ponds on the Green, roughly equidistant from each other; one to the South-east of the 
Chapel complex, one next to the junction of the Green with the York Road and the third at 
the toe-end of the Kell. Perhaps, before enclosure, the last had been an ancient pond serving 
the adjoining part of the Common, and so could have been dispensed with after enclosure 
but was allowed to remain, with the Green being extended to encompass it, to serve the 
stock grazing the Green at that end of the settlement. This thinking is strengthened by the 
fact that the enclosure award allotted to John Bell, the allottee of the close (OS 231/117) 
mentioned above, a small parcel of the common at the end of the close to compensate him for 
the rights of way granted under the award to the four other freeholders mentioned above 
and, until this parcel was developed for housing in recent years, it contained a pond (see Fig. 
2, p71). This suggests that the Kell and its pond may have been reserved out of the enclosure 
of the common and added to the Green to replace the pond lost to the graziers when it and 
the adjoining land was added to John Bell’s close (OS 231/117). 

One further point arises. A study of the plan shows clearly a hotchpotch of housing and 
other buildings in the area to the north-west of the Firtree House plot. The enclosure award, 
while allotting a parcel of land out of the common adjoining this area, made no requirement 
for its hedging against the Green, whereas all the other enclosures which adjoined the Green 
contained such a requirement. The implication is that by the time of enclosure this area had 
already been developed and in some manner fenced off from the common or moor. 

The south-west boundary of the Green, apart from where it is interrupted by the presence 
of the chapel complex, the Firtree House enclosure and the development referred to in the 
last paragraph, is to all intents a straight line which rather suggests that it was created at the 
time of the enclosure award. However, it may well be that the Green, though not known as 
such, and without the Kell, existed from much earlier times, even if its boundary with the 
rest of the common was no more than a ditch or dead hedge; the line being straightened at 
enclosure. 

THE CHAPEL COMPLEX AND THE FIRTREE HOUSE PLOT 

It will be observed from a study of the plan that these two elements of the settlement lie at 
a distinct angle to the single-row settlement, the orientation of their frontages being closer to 
north-south. Further, the frontage of the Firtree House plot is, at its closest, no more than 50 
feet (15 metres) from the frontage opposite; a very small distance when compared to the 
width of the Green. Why, given the presence of the Green and the open space of the common 
or moor of Flaxton beyond, should the creators of the chapel complex and the Firtree House 
plot have placed them so close to the existing planned settlement? Perhaps the answer is that 
they did not do so, but that the chapel complex and the Firtree House plot were already 
present, as part of an earlier unplanned settlement, when the single-row settlement was 
created; and the reason that the new settlement was positioned so close to the existing 
property was in order not to encroach unnecessarily upon the Croft furlong, while still 
providing an adequate area of garth behind the houses, with the change of orientation being 
to align the new settlement at right angles to the lands in the Croft furlong. 

The last above is the conclusion reached and, accordingly, the order of events becomes: 

(1) The creation of the Croft Field (probably including the other three fields), with an 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


‘ unplanned ' settlement, including the chapel complex and Firtree House plot, lying 
immediately to the south-west of the original boundary of the Croft furlong 

(2) The creation of the Girnol, Broad and South Fields by assarting (if indeed they were 
later than the Croft Field) 

(3) The demolition of the 'unplanned' settlement followed immediately by the creation of 
the planned single-row settlement, in part overlying the south-west part of the Croft furlong, 
probably with its Green (though the latter's present south-west boundary might not have 
been precisely as now) followed over the years by the formation of a new headland for the 
shortened Croft furlong 

(4) The creation of the Back Lane and Barney Lane, dispensing with the need for the 
headland, and the allotment of the remains of the Croft furlong to the individual tenements 
across the Back Lane. 

There is little or no direct evidence as to dating. The first conclusion, reached earlier in 
this section, was that the open-field system was more likely to have been in place by Domesday 
and, indeed, by the Conquest, than later. What about a date for the single-row planned 
settlement? The fact that the ten plots relating to the king’s holding have been identified at 
the end of section (3) as being in two separate blocks of six and four respectively, separated 
by the six Foston plots, suggests that the settlement was planned in the time of the three 
thanes and not the king; as otherwise one would have expected the king’s plots, like those of 
the other Domesday holdings, to be grouped together. It is not known when the holdings of 
the thanes were forfeited to the king but it seems improbable that the thanes were still in 
possession after the Harrying of the North in 1069-70. Accordingly the conclusion is that 
the single-row planned settlement dates from before that event and so probably from before 
the Conquest, thus confirming the early dating for the open-field system. As it has already 
been concluded that the chapel complex and the Fir Tree House plot pre-date the planned 
settlement, their creation must also be placed before the Conquest. 

There is no evidence relating to the dating of the Back Lane and Barney Lane. However, 
as it will no doubt have taken many decades to create a substantial new headland following 
the creation of the single-row settlement overlying a part of the Croft furlong, the conclusion 
is that they are likely to post-date the Domesday survey of 1086. 

CONCLUSION 

Considered overall, the conclusion must be that on the ground and in the settlement the township 
of Flaxton remained remarkably unchanged from before the Conquest through to enclosure in 
1658. The fact that, apart from the holding of Hugh son of Baldric, the entire township came early 
into the hands of several religious foundations may partly account for this stability. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

The author would not have achieved this article without the help, much needed, of the librarians 
and staff of the York Minster Library, the Borthwick Institute and the City of York Reference 
Library, and of the Archive Services of North, East and West Yorkshire in Northallerton, Beverley 
and Leeds respectively. He also wishes to acknowledge the very considerable help given by Christopher 
Taylor in correspondence with thoughts regarding the relationship of one tenement to two oxgangs, 
the sequence of the strips in the fields following the sequence of tenements in the settlement and, 


FLAXTON 


83 


more particularly, the layout of and the sequence of events relating to the planned settlement and 
the Croft furlong. He is also grateful to Professor David Palliser for providing time for discussion 
relating to the complex subject of Domesday bovates and their relationship to later tenurial oxgangs. 
finally he wishes to acknowledge the work of Dr Nick Barratt in translating and transcribing 
numerous documents at what was then the Public Record Office. However, the text and the erection 
of this 4-storied house of cards are entirely the work of the author. Professor Dyer writes: ‘The debate 
about the origin of villages has to be conducted in terms of probabilities ...’. How true. 46 


C. Dyer: Everyday Life in Medieval England, (Hambledon and London, 1994), p.xiv. 


46 





Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


85 


RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN THE 

DIOCESES OF 

RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 1991-2000 


Lawrence Butler 


This report discusses archaeological work in two of the five Anglican dioceses in Yorkshire, 
indicating the nature of the opportunities and the extent of the recording. Nearly all the 
work at 60 different churches has been small-scale intervention, individually modest but 
cumulatively important. The large-scale excavations (Hickleton, Kellington, Royston, 
Stain burn) are still unpublished 10-30 years after they were first undertaken. Although more 
work is being commissioned from professional archaeological units, most of it disappears 
into the ( gi'ey literature \ thereby failing to stimulate local interest. The work at three buildings 
(Wakefield Cathedral, Little Ouseburn, Gilling West) is sufficiently significant or diverse to 
merit fuller publication here. 


INTRODUCTION 

This report is a sequel to the article published in an earlier volume ( 1/1/64 (1992), 203- 
9). There is no need to repeat the statistics concerning the distribution of medieval churches 
within the two dioceses as that has not changed. The main emphasis is that in Ripon the 
proportion of medieval churches is greater in the north of the diocese beyond the Wharfe, 
whilst in Wakefield the proportion is higher in the east beyond Pontefract. Elsewhere in the 
more highly urbanised or industria lised areas there was a much greater proportion of Victorian 
churches. 

Over the past decade there has been an increase of state aid to churches and cathedrals. 
There has also been an accompanying increase in legislation and guidance. 1 The 
appropriateness of the “ecclesiastical exemption” whereby the churches monitor their own 
planning applications for fabric repairs and interior changes through legislation, committees 
and ecclesiastical consistoiy courts has occasionally been raised, but the system continues 
to work efficiently. At a more local level the archaeological units in the metropolitan counties 
have been active in conducting and promoting church archaeology, operating in conjunction 
with the diocesan archaeological officers. This has been particularly evident in West 
Yorkshire, where an excavation was conducted at Tong (B; W.R.) and a survey made of 


1 C. Bianco, “Legislation and Management in England and Wales”, in J. Blair and C. Pyrah (eds.), 
Church Archaeology: Research Directions for the Tuture (C.B.A. Research Report 104; London, 
1996), pp. 182-188. More recent legislation and guidance is summarised in: English Heritage, New 
Work in Historic Places of Worship (London, 2003), 15 pp. Also helpful is S. Mays, Guidance for best 
practice for treatment of human remains excavated from Christian burial grounds in England 
(English Heritage: London 2005), 54 pp. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


medieval church structures in the new county. 2 In South Yorkshire a dozen parishes lie 
within Wakefield diocese, but no excavation has been conducted within the diocese. The 
work at Hickleton (S; W.R.) is noted below. However some valuable survey work was 
undertaken before the archaeological unit was disbanded. 3 Another development which 
could well be followed in this area is the publication of illustrations of medieval and later 
churches before their Victorian restoration. Some were included in the West Yorkshire 
survey of 1993, but the York Archaeological Trust has issued a separate monograph for the 
medieval churches in York. 4 5 In the diocese of Ripon Kirk drew attention to three volumes of 
church views (drawings, water colours, engravings and photographs) compiled before 1888 
then at the Church Institute in Leeds, but later in Ripon Cathedral Library^; it is most 
unfortunate that those volumes, assembled from 1836 onwards, have lost over a quarter of 
their contents by unauthorised removals since Kirk made his catalogue. 

In general terms church archaeologists have responded well to the need to record promptly 
those changes to fabric and fittings discussed in the Diocesan Advisoiy Committees and put 
into operation by faculty legislation or by archdeacons’ certificates. Less predictable have 
been changes occasioned by the hazards of fire or theft. There have been minor cases of 
arson and of damage to stained glass by vandalism. Theft has affected some fittings (see 
below, p. 92). Storm damage, such as the lightning strike in March 1998 upon the spire of 
Garforth (R; W.R.), has been repaired promptly. 

Finally the decision to rename Ripon Diocese as “Ripon and Leeds” fails to appreciate the 
origins of the diocese. 6 Except for Sodor and Man the dioceses in England have been named 
from the cathedral church(es) and not from a district or a non-cathedral city. Since the 
grounds for renaming are based on the respective importance and population of Leeds as 
opposed to the “little-known” Ripon, it remains to be seen whether this precedent will be 
followed by more instances of renaming, such as Chichester and Brighton, Winchester and 
Southampton, Ely and Cambridge, Southwell and Nottingham, or Durham and Gateshead. 


2 Peter Ryder, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire ([Wakefield] 1993). The West Yorkshire 
Archaeological Service has also published Peter Ryder, Medieval Cross Slab Grave Covers in West 
Yorkshire (1991) and a number of church guide leaflets. For ease of reference to the volumes of 
Pevsner (Buildings of England series) and ofj. E. Morris (Little Guides) all churches are identified 
by the initial letters of both diocese (Bradford, Ripon, Sheffield, Wakefield, York) and of former 
county (North Riding, West Riding, East Riding). 

3 The South Yorkshire Archaeology Committee sponsored surveys of Saxon churches and of medieval 
stained glass: Peter Ryder, Saxon Churches in South Yorkshire (Barnsley, 1982); Brian Sprakes, The 
Medieval Stained Glass of South Yorkshire (Oxford, 2003). 

4 Barbara Wilson and Frances Mee, The Medieval Parish Churches of York: the pictorial evidence 
(York, 1998). 

5 G. E. Kirk, “A Catalogue of Illustrations of Churches in the undivided Diocese of Ripon”, Y. A.J., 
33 (1938), 199-214. The volumes are now in the Special Collections of the Brotherton Library, Leeds 
University. 

6 P. S. Morrish, “Leeds and the Dismemberment of the Diocese of Ripon”, Publications of the 
Thoresby Society, 2nd series, 4 for 1993 (1994), 62-97. There were attempts to create a separate 
diocese of Leeds in 1851 and in 1908, and to transfer the see to Leeds in 1922. 


RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 


87 


EXCAVATION AND STRUCTURAL REPAIR WITHIN CHURCHES 

One great advantage of work in churches is that there is always a long gestation period 
when plans are discussed, amenity bodies are consulted and alternative solutions proposed. 
This gives plenty of time for preliminary documentary research or for structural survey 
ahead of excavation. Two modest excavations were undertaken, both by the West Yorkshire 
Archaeological Service. At Normanton during 1991 in advance of re-ordering, a new floor 
was installed and old pavements and steps were removed. The main discovery was that the 
pillar bases rested on individual stone footings surrounded by clay. There was insufficient 
evidence to indicate the extent of the presumed aisleless nave of the 11th century or earlier. 
The collapse of the Victorian pavement in the south aisle of Wakefield Cathedral provided 
the opportunity during 1995 to assess the stability of the aisle interior before the pavement 
was re-laid and the pew platform re-instated. Although it was known that the arrangement of 
the pews and the aisle paving was the result of Scott’s restoration in 1858-74, it was anticipated 
that evidence for an earlier and narrower south aisle would be found in excavation, following 
the hypothesis of Micklethwaite, accepted by Walker. 7 This should reveal the aisle served by 
the 14th-century piers before the external aisle walls of the late 15th-century were built. A 
north-south trench from the aisle paving to the south wall failed to find any evidence for an 
earlier wall, suggesting either that the aisle was very much narrower than postulated or that 
the presumed wall had been completely removed by internal burials. It was less likely that 
the aisle, first of the early 13th century and then of the mid 14th century, was of the same 
width as the existing south aisle. 8 (APPENDIX A) 

The value of making a careful record when plaster is stripped from walls during repairs 
or before repointing has been shown at Darrington (W; W.R.) and Little Ouseburn (R; W.R.). 
At the former a window on the north side of the tower in the embracing north aisle (now a 
vestry) was unblocked and displayed an early 13th-century floral painting of a delicately 
curling tendril spray on the west reveal; an aumbry in the south wall of the chancel was 
exposed. At Little Ouseburn the chancel was stripped of Victorian plaster and showed two 
layers of late 16th- and 17th-century texts in Gothic black letter. All were fragmentary and no 
complete word was readable. Such texts have been found in similar plaster stripping at Tong 
or under layers of whitewash at Wharram Percy (Y; E.R.). 9 However the repointing of the 
east window of the south aisle exposed two re-used Anglo-Saxon cross fragments with a 
standing figure of tenth-century character. (APPENDIX B) 

A large number of minor repairs and routine maintenance occurred; wherever possible 
the upper levels of the fabric were inspected from scaffolding. This gave the opportunity to 

7 J. T. Micklethwaite, “On the Growth of the Fabric of All Saints Church, Wakefield AD 1100-1530”, 
in J. W. Walker, The History of the Old Parish Church of All Saints, Wakefield (W akefield, 1888), pp. 
36-48, figures 1-7. Later revised inj. W. Walker, Wakefield, its History and Teop/e (Wakefield, 1934), 
chapter IX. 

8 Author’s Report to Wakefield Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee (February 1995); A. Francis, 
“Wakefield Cathedral: Watching Brief in the South Aisle”, WYAS Report 226 (limited circulation, 
February 1995) 

9 Tong: P. Ryder, Medieval Churches (as note 2), 127; Wharram Percy: Wharram III - The Church 
of St. Martin , eds R. D. Bell, M. W. Beresford and others (Society for Medieval Archaeology 
Monograph 11: London, 1987), 134-7. 


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inspect and record the interiors and exteriors of overlap Saxo-Norman towers, as at Gilling 
West (R; N.R.), Hornby (R; N.R.) and Kippax (R; W.R.) or external heraldry, as at Burneston 
(R; N.R) and Richmond St. Maiy (R; N.R.). The use of tufa as packing material around the 
Norman tympanum in the tower’s west doorway at Hornby parallels the recycling of this 
stone from Roman structures observed in Northamptonshire. 10 The value of close examination 
has also been shown in recording masons’ marks as a guide to building practices and the 
progress of construction. 11 

In the previous report mention was made of four substantial excavations at churches and 
one at a cathedral. It is a pleasure to note that the work at Tong (B; W.R.) has now been 
published, 12 and that the report on the 1974 excavation in Wakefield Cathedral is included 
below (APPENDIX A). However it is regrettable that the works at Hickleton (S; W.R.), 
Royston (W; W.R.) and Kellington (W; W.R.) have not yet received final publication, though 
Kellington has had fairly full interim reports and some aspects of its methodology have been 
published. The unpublished work on the redundant church at Stainburn (R; W.R.) showed 
that there was no evidence for a church earlier than the twelfth century, though close scrutiny 
of the fabric revealed many subsequent changes to door and window openings. The late 
medieval porch had a dedicatoiy inscription. The earliest churchyard memorial was a table 
tomb of late 16th-century character. Survey of the churchyard boundary showed different 
periods of expansion and re-alignment. The archive material, notebooks, plans and 
photographs from all the author’s work recorded in this article will be donated to the Yorkshire 
Archaeological Society. 

CHURCHYARD EXCAVATION 

Any disturbance to the ground and fabric is potentially destructive to the archaeological 
evidence which that ground contains. Excavation such as diy area trenching will disturb the 
relationship between the structure and the ground on which it stands or through which its 
foundation trenches have been cut. A major disturbance of this nature has been at 
Goldsborough (R; W. R) during 1996 where the tower foundations needed to be strengthened. 
Excavation showed that a tower standing 100 ft. (30 m.) high was resting on boulder 
foundations and a base course only 24 ins. (62 cm.) deep; there was no evidence for a 
foundation cut, but instead the earth had been piled back around the foundation. Elsewhere 

10 For the use of tufa in Anglo-Saxon building: D. S. Sutherland and D. Parsons, The Petrological 
Contribution to the Survey of All Saints church, Brixworth, Northamptonshire: an Interim Account, 
Journal of the British Archaeological Association, 137 (1984), 45-64, esp. 53-54: “Tufa was a stone 
much favoured by the Romans for vaulting in bath houses”; though in D.S. Sutherland, “Burnt 
Stone in a Saxon church and its implications” in D. Parsons (ed.), Stone: Quarrying and Building in 
England AD 43-1525 (Rochester, 1990), 102-113, she states (p. 112) “there is no indication that ... the 
tufa [at Brixworth]... is secondhand”. See also D. Stocker with P. Everson, “Rubbish Recycled: a study 
of the re-use of stone in Lincolnshire”, Parsons (ed.), Stone , 83-101, and T. Eaton, Plundering the 
Past: Roman Stonework in Medieval Britain (Stroud, 2000) 

11 Ian Roberts “Bradford Cathedral Tower: archaeological recording 1993-4”, Church Archaeology, 
1 (1997), 42-43. 

12 P. Ryder, Medieval Churches (as note 2), 118-132. In 1997 new paving and other work was 
proposed for Featherstone church (W; W.R.) after the organ caught fire through an electrical fault: 
this was a church assessed in Ryder, ibid, 106-117. The thoroughness of the 1880 restoration has 
limited any opportunity to make new discoveries: York, Borthwick Institute: Faculty 1880/7. 


RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 


89 


around the south and east sides of the church it was clear that Scott’s restoration of 1859 had 
replaced or inserted a plinth around the church and had underpinned the buttresses. He had 
also renewed the chancel’s south doorway which he then blocked. Debris from Victorian 
window tracery repair was also noted, indicating that stones were given their final dressing 
on site. 

Another trench cut in 1995 to alleviate dampness in the church was alongside the south 
chancel chapel at Royston (W; W.R.). This revealed that four small Romanesque nook shafts 
had been used as part of the foundation course below the ashlar masomy coursing. A small 
late medieval window head was used to repair the chapel’s east wall. A dry area trench was 
dug around the tower at Catterick (R; N.R.) and was proposed around the chancel of Farnham 
(R; W.R.) where Scott had undertaken a thorough restoration in 1854; financial 
considerations have caused the latter work to be postponed. 

The provision of kitchens and toilet facilities in the church was the reason for trenches 
cut in the churchyards at Bardsey (R; W.R.), Elland (W; W.R.), Emley (W; W.R.), Gilling West 
(R; N.R.), Middleham (R; N.R.) and Spennithorne (R; N.R.). The only significant discovery 
was at Gilling where part of an Anglo-Saxon cross-head was found in disturbed grave earth 
north of the church (APPENDIX C). At Emley the brick debris of a former vestry and the 
coal dust from a former fuel store were found on the north of the chancel when four drainage 
trenches and soakaway pits were dug around the church. Soakaways dug at Bolton-on-Swale 
and Hornby (both R; N.R.) were uninformative. 

The introduction of new electricity cables at a number of churches had the potential to 
provide information about structures in the churchyard or about any earlier churchyard 
wall or bank. However in each case the trench was too narrow and shallow to provide any 
useful information. At Bedale, Burneston, Kirklington, Pickhill and Wath (all R; N.R.) cables 
were laid to permit floodlighting of the church; the cables did not penetrate beneath the 
topsoil and the light fixings did not disturb any existing graves or headstones. The initiatives 
of the Churches Floodlighting Trust has considerably increased the number of such schemes 
over the past decade. A different problem occurred at East Cowton (R; N.R.). Here the 
medieval and later church had been demolished in 1989 after standing neglected since the 
new church was built in 1910. The old graveyard had continued in use, but it was proposed 
that the site of the old church should now be used for burial. In order to preserve the 
medieval remains intact from unnecessary destruction it was recommended that burial took 
place elsewhere within the large rectangular churchyard and that new paths were laid to 
serve the new burial area. The site of the medieval chapel at Winksley (R; W.R.) was identified 
within the existing churchyard. Survey work at the disused medieval church and churchyard 
beside the river Greta at Brignall (R; N.R.) has been published. 13 

TOMBS AND VAULTS 

There have been various occasions where minor works have given the opportunity to 
record features temporarily exposed. The tombs are discussed chronologically. At Gilling 
West (R; N.R.) the arched tomb recess in the south aisle wall was repaired to prevent damp 
penetration into the church. This gave the opportunity to lift the medieval tomb slab and to 

13 D. Coggins and K. J. Fairless, “The Old Church of St. Mary, Brignall, near Barnard Castle”, 
Durham Archaeological Journal , 17 (2003), 25-41. 


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examine the tomb base; this revealed that it was a Victorian insert and did not fit the recess. 
It is likely that the tomb slab was found when the new north aisle was built in 1845 and the 
present arrangement dates from that restoration. (APPENDIX C) The two tomb slabs 
forming benches in the porch were most probably found and positioned in the same Victorian 
restoration. At this same restoration the tomb of Sir Henry Boynton (died 1531 ) and his wife 
Isabella had been dismantled, and the tomb slab set vertically against the inner north aisle’s 
east wall; it was later moved close to the west tower in the 1899 restoration. The original 
tomb base lay just north of the pulpit and was demolished to allow a new pew platform to be 
laid. In 1999 when it was intended to pave this area an opportunity was taken to record the 
tomb base. 14 

At Royston (W; W.R.) it was noted that the stringcourse on the north side of the chancel 
was incised with carvings of mason’s tools (hammer, chisel) on its upper surface; this may be 
part of a tomb slab but is more likely to be casual carving. 15 A full study was made at 
Goldsborough (R; W.R.) when the two fourteenth-century tombs in the chancel were 
conserved, revealing medieval figure painting on the side panels of the southern tomb and 
decorative bands on the base of the northern tomb. ie Both tombs had been dismantled in 
Scott’s restoration of 1859. At Croft (R; N.R.) renewal of the timber flooring in the east bay 
of the south aisle exposed the tomb slab to Sir John Clervaux (died 1443) and his wife 
Margaret. 17 The dismantled heraldic side panels of this tomb line the side walls of the chapel; 
the lid lay above the vault. The tomb chest of Sir Richard Clervaux (died 1490) was centrally 
positioned in the adjoining bay to the west. 

A table tomb of the sixth earl of Shrewsbury (of 1590) in Sheffield Cathedral (dismantled 
in 1975) was recorded whilst it decayed in the churchyard; the dismantled heraldic side 
panels were inspected in a mason’s yard in York. 18 The value of recording tomb details 
during conservation was shown at Stanwick (R; N.R.) where the Smithson tomb chest of 
1684-88 was evidently moved in Salvin’s restoration of 1868 from a position against the 
south aisle south wall, with three exposed sides, to its present location in the south-east angle 
of that aisle, with only two exposed sides. The tomb chest contained within it the discarded 


14 The report by Mr Percival Turnbull has been submitted to Gilling West PCC (5/2/1999). 

15 The form of the hammer is similar to that on a tomb slab at Hamsterley: P. F. Ryder, The Medieval 
Cross Slab Grave Cover in County Durham (Durham 1985), Hamsterley (9), pp. 35 (Fig. 8, no. 5), 
38, 93, and Plate 35. 

16 Report (p. 12) in B. and M. Gittos, “The Conservation of the Goldsborough Effigies”, Church 
Monuments , XII (1997), 5-13. 

17 It is possible to correct the version given in T. D. Whitaker, History of Richmondshire (London, 
1823), I, 237 to read “[H]ic iacet J[oh’es] Clarvaux | [miles qui obiit xiiii Augusti A’o D’]ni mccccxliii 
et dn~a m'gareta ux | or ej filia Radi lumli militis | et nepos Rad'o nevil po cm'ti W'stmni q obt xxo 
die decmb.. | Ric’: ej: fili’: han c t:u~ba: fieri: fecit” and to translate as “Here lies Sir John Clarvaux 
who died 14 August 1443, and Lady Margaret his wife, daughter of Sir Ralph Lumley and niece of 
Ralph Nevil first earl of Westmorland, who died 20 December. Richard his son caused this tomb to 
be made.” I am grateful to Mr W. D. Chaytor and Professor A. J. Pollard for help with this tomb. 

18 L. Butler , “The tombs of George, sixth earl of Shrewsbury, in Sheffield Cathedral”, Trans. Hunter 
Arch. Society ; 20 (1999), 52-61. 


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91 


side panel displaying a heraldic shield and the sculptor’s name [William] ‘Stanton Fecit 
London’. 19 During repaving at Whixley (R; W.R.) the original position of the Tancred tomb 
of 1734 was recorded; it was moved to a position against the south aisle south wall in Scott’s 
restoration of 1862. There was no evidence of any structures earlier than the present church, 
but it was clear that Scott had raised the floor level by a foot (30 cm.) throughout the nave. 
The recording of all the memorials inside and outside Wakefield Cathedral also gave an 
opportunity to assess their quality and to note the different materials of the surviving tombs. 20 
At Ackworth (W; W.R.) and Beeston (R; W.R.) gravestones concealed under timber flooring 
were recorded whilst temporarily exposed. 

Two vaults were recorded during the past decade. The more extensive was the Thompson 
vault beneath the classical mausoleum at Little Ouseburn (R; W.R.). The mausoleum had 
suffered badly from stone decay and structural damage after the lead had been stolen from its 
roof. A full conservation programme during 1995-7 repaired the structure standing on a 
grassy mound above the concealed vault. This four-foot ( 1 20 cm) high mound was composed 
of earth, rejected stone, brick and tile. Details of the 24 inscription plaques recording 
burials of the Thompsons and the Crofts between 1743 and 1910 and the location of the 
original vault doorway (later bricked up) were recorded; there were 8 empty spaces but a 
quarter of the interior was not utilised for coffin spaces. 21 At the same church alongside the 
south wall of the chancel there was uncovered the entrance to the brick built vault of Edmund 
Robinson of ‘Thorpe Greene’; it is also marked by a worn sandstone plaque built into the 
south wall exterior. 22 

Another vault was discovered during routine chancel maintenance at Kippax (R; W.R.); 
this was to the Blands of Kippax Park. The vault’s internal plan and the six tomb inscriptions 
between 1791 and 1886 were recorded; 11 spaces were unoccupied. The dry conditions had 
preserved some of the funeral wreaths. The inscriptions tallied with the information on the 
wall tablets in the chancel. 

FITTINGS AND FURNITURE 

The main threat to historic furniture has been an enthusiasm for liturgical re-ordering. 
One prominent clergyman (Richard Giles, vicar of Huddersfield St. Thomas, now Dean of 


19 L. Butler, “The Smithson Monument at Stanwick, North Yorkshire”, Church Monuments, XV 
(2000), 65-70. A parallel piece of recording was by Peter Ryder of the medieval cross-slab grave 
covers built into the fabric, of which those in the south porch were becoming eroded by wind and 
weather (as are those at Forcett): P. Ryder, “St. John’s Church, Stanwick, North Yorkshire: the 
medieval cross slabs”, Church Monuments , XVIII (2002), 5-13. 

2(1 L. Butler, “The Monuments in Wakefield Cathedral”, Church Monuments , XIII (1998), 106-9. 
There have previously been recording exercises in the churchyard, conducted by West Yorkshire 
Archaeological Services, in 1980 in the area north of the church prior to the building of Bishop 
Treacy Memorial Hall and in 1991-2 in the area south of the church prior to the extensive landscaping 
and paving. 

21 The full record by Mr Helier Hibbs has been placed with the parish records. The coffins were not 
inspected though one was visible where the stone sealing plaque had become detached; it still retained 
its copper coffin inscription plate. 

22 For details of his life and accidental death in 1869, see Peter Holmes in Y.A.J., 76 (2004), 206-8. 


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Washington Cathedral, D.C.) wrote in 1995 “In nearly every case, a radical and bold approach 
will be required in order to remove unused or surplus furniture and to clear space within 
buildings dating from previous generations of Christian thought and worship. Teaching 
will be needed on the nature of memorial gifts as artifacts at the disposal of the living 
Church.” 23 Such an approach would see medieval stalls, Jacobean altar tables, Georgian 
pulpits and Victorian choir stalls all regarded as surplus furniture, preventing “worshipping 
communities from experiencing the benefits of re-ordered buildings”. Fortunately the 
mechanisms of diocesan advisoiy committees seem sufficiently robust to withstand or 
moderate these views. Instead of damage inflicted from within the Church there has been 
some damage from outsiders. Theft has usually been opportunistic, mainly the removal of 
York stone paving slabs and churchyard coping stones, but the theft of the medieval lectern 
from Methley (R; W.R.)(since recovered) and the bronze door closing ring from Adel (R; 
W.R.) were both serious losses to medieval art. The theft of modern church silver by Omar 
Ramsden from Wakefield cathedral (W; W.R.) appears to have been more carefully targeted 
to supply art collectors. On a happier note the ' lost’ Anglo-Saxon cross fragment from High 
Hoyland (W; W.R.) has been located; it had been taken into safe keeping by a parishioner 
acting when the church was declared redundant and before it was turned into a youth 
activity centre. 

CHURCHYARD RECORDING 

The need to record churchyard memorials has usually preceded schemes for tidying up an 
overgrown burial ground, as at Hartshead (W; W.R.), Rothwell and Wortley (both R; W.R.). 
In those three cases a large-scale recording programme was undertaken by the parish or a 
local history group and the diocesan archaeologist checked the accuracy of the record. 24 
This was also done in a more limited area at Collingham (R; W.R.), Birstall, Cleckheaton 
White Chapel, Farnley Tyas and Flockton (all W; W.R) ahead of planting or pathway schemes 
(which were then modified to protect the gravestones). There were limited actions where 
the repositioning of stones improved disabled access or preceded building work, as at 
Garforth and Illingworth (W; W.R.). Also at Garforth (R; W.R.) further research was needed 
to ascertain whether the new parish hall on the south of the church would impinge upon the 
outline of the medieval church. 25 However on consulting the plans of the church, newly built 


23 These sentiments are developed further in R. Giles, Re-pitching the Tent (Norwich, 1996), 111-120, 
212-3. He quotes approvingly ‘When asked by a DAC to consider compromising a situation based 
on the concern for avoiding change .... the parish should address the Advisory Committee, through 
its Chairman, directly on the question of whether his committee is a committee of the Christian 
Church or an outpost of the Conservation Movement’ Robert Maguire, The Re-ordering of Churches: 
what is it to be radical? (Liturgy North, 1996). 

24 T. Cocke, The Churchyards Handbook (4th Edition, 2003); Harold Mytum, Recording and 
analysing graveyards (CBA, 2000); Peter Butler, Where to find Recorded Monumental Inscriptions: 
Yorkshire (North-East Group of Family History Societies: Brandesburton, 1996). In the three cases 
cited here the record was lodged both in the parish and with the diocesan office. 

25 York, Borthwick Institute: Faculty 1844/3. West Yorkshire Archive Service: YAS Claremont, Leeds 
MD 382/11 plan of Nov. 1843 by George Fowler Jones. Similar assessments had previously been 
conducted at Almondbury and Batley (both W; W.R.) in advance of building their parish halls on 
shallow foundations to the north of the church; the deeper service and drainage trenches were 
monitored. 


RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 


93 


in 1844, it was clear that it lay immediately over its predecessor and that the unusual projection 
of the west gable of the nave was because the original intention had been to retain the 
medieval west tower. Another recording task has been the detached churchyard at Liversedge 
(W; W.R.) where stones were repositioned in order to create a new car park for worshippers. 
A long-term programme has been undertaken at Methley (R; W.R.) where the area around 
the church has been progressively cleared of ‘illegible’ stones to allow new burial to take 
place in the old ground. 

A major problem has been the aspect of health and safety in the churchyard where decaying 
headstones and collapsing table tombs can attract vandals and pose risks to visitors. Where 
a churchyard has been ‘closed’ to further burial and has been transferred to the local authority 
for care and maintenance, then it is possible for a management regime more appropriate to 
a modern civic cemetery to be introduced that proves to be unsympathetic to historic 
tombstones and destructive of wild fauna and flora. There have also been unsuccessful 
proposals to move the great Anglo-Saxon cross at Masham (R; N.R.) within the church for 
greater protection against erosion. Such transfers have been successful at Ilkley (B; W.R.) - 
on display in the tower, or at Hovingham (Y; N.R.) - as a focal point of worship in the 
chancel. Greater protection has also been given to the Anglo-Saxon crosses at Dewsbury 
(W; W.R.), Rothwell (R; W.R.) and Thornton Steward (R; N.R.). 26 

REDUNDANCIES 

Although there has been a steady case-load of churches considered for redundancy, no 
medieval church has fallen into this category recently though a number of spectacular 
Victorian structures by nationally famous architects have. The only one now cared for by 
the Churches Conservation Trust (formerly the Redundant Churches Fund) is Christ the 
Consoler at Skelton-cum-Newby between Boroughbridge and Ripon. This is a major work 
by William Burges and was erected in 1871-2 by Lady Mary Vyner in memory of her son. The 
other Burges church in Yorkshire is even finer: it is St. Mary at Studley Royal built in 1871- 
8 for the Marchioness of Ripon. This church is now in the care of English Heritage as part 
of the Fountains Abbey estate. 27 

The Churches Conservation Trust has continued to care for and repair its churches, most 
recently at Coverham and Stanwick (both R; N.R.). It has also issued new guidebooks or 
revised previous ones. 28 It now cares for nine churches in Ripon diocese and North Yorkshire 
(3 in former North Riding; 6 in former West Riding); 2 in Ripon diocese and West Yorkshire 
(former West Riding); 2 in Wakefield diocese and West Yorkshire (former West Riding). 
The two in Wakefield diocese are both Victorian churches: Copley by W. H. Crossland and 
All Souls, Haley Hill, Halifax by Scott. 

One medieval structure for which a new use has been found is the Hospital chapel of St. 
Mary Magdalene in Stonebridgegate, Ripon; it is now an architects’ office. Another 


26 West Yorkshire Archaeological Services have put on display in Dewsbury church a recently found 
decorated stone fragment which may have been the side arm terminal of a priest’s chair. 

27 Peter Leach, St Mary’s Church, Studley Royal (English Heritage 1981). 

28 The most recent guidebooks are by Henry Stapleton, St. Mary’s church, Lead (2000) and by 
Anthony Barnes, St.John the Baptist’s church , Stanwick (2001). 


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redundancy has been at a village chapel in Hunton (R; N.R.) where, apart from a little re-used 
early Victorian woodwork, the present structure is of 1894; this has a new domestic future. 
The medieval chapel of St.John with its chantry of St. Edmund was on a different low-lying 
site in the village. 

CONCLUSION 

There has been a steady but unspectacular repair programme on church buildings and a 
desire to keep the churchyards tidy. No sudden disasters have occurred in this region on the 
scale of the arson destruction at Brancepeth (Durham) or the bomb damage at Manchester 
cathedral and St. Ethelburga, Bishopgate, London. The main problem has been the slowness 
in publishing major work of the 1980s and the disappearance of much contract archaeology 
work into the ‘grey literature’ thereby hiding it away from all but the most determined 
researcher. On a positive note county and national parks archaeological officers are far 
more aware of rescue and recording opportunities at ecclesiastical sites; parishes now regularly 
commission archaeological field units to undertake contract work for them as part of the 
planning process. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

This article could not have been written without the kind co-operation over the past decade of the 
various members of the two advisory committees, especially the Chairmen, the Secretaries (Ripon: 
Glyn Royal, Mrs. Betty Cartwright; Wakefield: (the late) Dr. John Addy and Dr. Linda Box), the 
four Archdeacons, the registrars and the architects, especially Neil Birdsall, Denis Greenwood, 
Peter Hill, (the late) Peter Marshall, Peter Pace and Gerald Wood. During the period under 
consideration both committees have had a number of chairmen and all four archdeacons have 
changed through promotion or retirement. All the officers have been continually sympathetic to the 
archaeological dimensions of ecclesiastical and architectural history. 


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APPENDIX A: WAKEFIELD CATHEDRAL [FIGS 1-7] 


The following report on the 1974 excavation is reproduced with permission from West Yorkshire 
Archaeological Services. It is part of a longer report that details all the pieces of work in and around 
the cathedral between 1974 and 1995, all under the direction of the cathedral architect, Peter 
Marshall. It should be noted that the presence of an Anglo-Saxon church shown on Figure 2 is 
surmise and that the mentions of such a church by Marshall 1975 and Speak & Forrester 1976 are 
based on Walker’s view that remains found when the cathedral was extended eastwards in 1904 were 
of Anglo-Saxon date. Walker does not state the nature of the remains or give the reason why he 
assigned a pre-Conquest date to them. The Anglo-Saxon cross was found reused some 400 yards east 
of the cathedral, but is presumed to have come from the nearest church (W.G. Collingwood, YAJ, 20 
(1908-9), 185-6). All that can so far be said is that the earliest group of burials found in 1974 establish 
a strong case for a burial ground preceding the church of circa 1 100 and that burial 1 24 with a tenth- 
century or Late Saxon ring is the strongest evidence for a slightly earlier date. Assuming that this 
ring is contemporary with the burial and not an heirloom, then this does indicate a Late Saxon 
burial ground. 

The central tower shown on Figure 2 is based on Micklethwaite’s opinion; there are other possible 
explanations for the masonry observable at the east end of the south aisle. There is no evidence for 
the building of the tower detached at the west end in the period 1315-1329 and far more reason from 
its architecture to assign it to the period 1409-1420 with the western bay of the present church being 
built circa 1430 to link the new tower to the nave previously of six bays. The enlargements of the 
south aisle in c. 1220 and in 1315-1329 were not confirmed in the excavation of 1995. 


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Archaeological Investigations at Wakefield Cathedral 

1974 - 1995 

By A.C. Swann and I. Roberts 
with a contribution by D. Tweddle 

Between 1974 and 1995 development and remedial works within the church and precinct 
of Wakefield Cathedral provided the opportunity for small-scale archaeo-logical investigations 
to be carried out. The work, in the form of trial excavations and watching briefs, has 
established the presence of a number of early, possibly pre-Conquest, burials. One of the 
early graves yielded a finger-ring believed to be of Late Saxon date. Also revealed were the 
foundations for what is believed to be the smaller l‘2 h -centuiy Norman church. The finds 
assemblage from the graves and grave earth suggest that many of the interments date to the 
17 h -19 h century, there being very few artefacts of medieval date recovered. 

BACKGROUND 

Wakefield Cathedral lies on the north side of Kirkgate in the commercial centre of the 
modern town (Fig. 1; SE 333 208). It is flanked to the north by Westmorland Street, to the 



Fig. 1. O.S. Map of 1952 showing the Vicar’s Croft burial ground (disused) prior to the widening 
of the Springs 


RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 


97 


west by Northgate, with Teall Street to the east, and the Kirkgate precinct to the south. Until 
it was elevated to cathedral status in 1888 it had been the parish church of All Saints, the 
product of several phases of development dating from the medieval period. The site is 
probably the site of one of two churches recorded in Domesday for the manor of Wakefield 
(Faull 1981b, 212). This notion is reinforced by its early dedication to All Hallows, a dedication 
typical of pre-Conquest foundations (Ryder 1993, 24). Consequently, it could well have been 
the church given to earl Warenne by Wiliam II in 1088-91 (Walker 1888, x, 1). There is little 
tangible evidence of any Saxon activity on the site, although Marshall (1975) alludes to 
fragments of a former Saxon building being found during 19 th century restoration works. 
The nature of this evidence is unknown, although a Saxon cross dating to the 10 th century is 
believed to have once stood in the churchyard (Speak and Forrester 1976, 3) 

A phased development of the church from pre-Conquest times was postulated in 1888 by 
J.T. Micklethwaite (Fig. 2). There has been little change to his proposed development of the 
church from the beginning of the 12 th century, although the existence of a 9 th -century church 
is conjectured. The supposed development, as endorsed by both Marshall (1975; see also 
Speak and Forrester 1976, 11, 24-5) and more recently by Ryder (1993), envisages a 12 th - 
century cruciform-plan church with a central tower. This was enlarged in cl 150 with the 
addition of a narrow north aisle, followed by the addition of a slightly wider south aisle in 
cl220. The collapse of the Norman tower in c.1315 is believed to have prompted the 
construction of a new west tower between c.1315-29. This was followed by the rebuilding of 
the whole west end from 1409, culminating with the construction of a 247 ft (75m) high spire 
in 1420 (Pevsner 1959, 520). In 1458 the aisles were widened to the existing ground plan. 
Although the north and south fronts were rebuilt in the 18 th century, the church remained 
essentially medieval until the restoration work of Sir George Gilbert Scott between 1858-74. 
The final phase of development saw the extension of the eastern end and the creation of a 
crypt between 1898-1905. 

The full extent of the churchyard is not known. It is shown on John Walker’s town plan of 
1823 to have been trapezoidal in plan, essentially contained by the courses of Kirkgate, 
Northgate and Westmorland Street, with little scope for burial at the narrow eastern end. It 
may well have been much larger at one time and have suffered encroachment by street 
widening in the course of the development of the commercial centre since the medieval 
period. In this respect it is notable that in the 19 th century burials were located in the cellar 
of the Raven Public House in Westmorland Street, to the north of the cathedral. By the 
middle of the 18 th century the churchyard is recorded as being ‘inconveniently crowded’, 
prompting the opening of the detached Vicar’s (or Vicarage) Croft Burial Ground in 1815 
(Walker 1934, 540). This new burial ground lay a short distance to the north-east of the 
church (Fig. 1). 

EXCAVATIONS OF 1974 

Early in 1974 the former West Yorkshire Metropolitan County Rescue Unit, under the 
direction of P. Mayes, was invited to excavate two areas (Areas 1 and 2; Fig. 3) at the east end 
of the nave where the central aisle floor was undergoing repairs. The excavations afforded 
the opportunity to investigate the nature, date and degree of preservation of the underlying 
archaeological deposits in this part of the cathedral, and the possibility that they might 


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Fig. 2. Phased development of the parish church to the mid- 15th century. Based on Micklethwaite 1888 


RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 


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throw additional light the history of the site. To date only very summary details of this 
investigation have been published (see Thorp 1975, Faull 1981a, 188, Speak and Forrester 
1976, 4-5). 

AREA 1 (FIGS 3 AND 4) 

Area 1 measured 2.2m by 5.2m and was situated in the seventh bay (from the west) of 
south aisle. All pews, concrete pew seating and heating pipes were initially removed by 
building contractors. Below these a layer of dry sandy soil (100) was encountered. The 
underlying layers (101 and 102), sandy loams that contained a mixture of construction 
debris, fragments of human bone and mortar probably represented a levelling off of up-cast 
grave earth. Below these layers a number of inter-linking east-west grave cuts were apparent 
which were then excavated and recorded. Only 14 of the graves produced human remains 
capable of full skeletal analysis, although some 32 individuals were represented by residual 
material in the assemblage as a whole. Fuller details are in the archive report. 

Due to the dry homogenous nature of the soil, identification of individual grave cuts was 
occasionally difficult. Some twenty-seven individual interments were identified, many having 
been cut into or superimposed upon earlier graves. On the basis of the physical and 
stratigraphical relationships available, coupled with the inferences of the spatial arrangement 
of the graves, interments can be split into three general phases: those pre-dating the Norman 
church, those of likely 17 th -18 th century date and those of likely 18 th -19 th century date. Overall 
the archaeology might be seen to fall into five discrete phases (I-V). 


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Fig. 4a. 1974 Excavation Area 1 - sections 


Phase I (Figs 4 and 5) 

Of the thirteen potentially early graves, only six have clear stratigraphic relationships that 
may allow them to be ascribed to pre-Norman times. Of these, 123, 124, 131 and 136 were 
cut by the foundation trench for what is believed to be the foundation of the north wall of the 
Norman nave (122), thought to date to c. AD 1100 (see above), whilst Graves 129 and 133 
are demonstrably earlier, having been cut by graves 123 and 124 respectively. Grave 124 is 
of particular interest in this early group as the remains of c. 25 year old female it contained 
were associated with a (Psilver) finger-ring with a developed zoomorphic design that can be 
dated to the Late Saxon period (see below). The remaining graves potentially belonging to 
this pre-Norman phase, but which are not directly associated stratigraphically, are 125, 126, 
127, 128, 130, 134 and 135. To a degree all the burials attributed to this phase are mutually 
exclusive, with little or no inter-cutting, and it is conceivable that they are contemporary. 
However, exact dating for the graves cannot be achieved and those in the group, not 
stratigraphically tied to the pre-Norman period, could in reality date to any point in the 
medieval period. Apart from 1 24 the only graves of this group containing preserved articulated 
human bone were 123, 125, .126 and 128. 


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Phase II (Figs 4 and 5) 

This phase is represented by the 
foundation trench and foundation (122) 
of the south wall of the Norman nave. From 
the area exposed it can be deduced that 
the foundation was composed of roughly 
coursed stone (at least six courses), some 
1.2m wide and at least lm deep, 
constructed within a trench with a U- 
shaped profile. 

Phase III (Figs 4 and 5) 

A second series of 12 interments are 
believed to date to the 17 th and 18 th 
centuries. The most interesting sequence 
here are the three successive burials 118, 

119 and 120 interred within the roughly 
fashioned stone cist to the south of the 
nave. The cist was constructed of two 
vertical sandstone slabs capped by a 
horizontal slab. The earliest individual to 
be buried in this possible family group was 
represented by 120, a male between the 
ages of 35-40. The second (119) was 
another 35-40 year old male, and the third 
(118) was roughly 35 years old and of 
indeterminate sex. This location was 
subsequently used for two further burials, 
the first of which (115) cut through the 
backfill of the previous grave to bottom 

onto the stone lid of the cist. This in turn was cut by a later grave (113). The entire sequence 
of burial mentioned above was cut by Phase IV grave 108 (see below), which also cut grave 
114 to the south which contained the skeleton of an adult male who had suffered from 
tuberculosis. 


To the north of the nave arcade ( 1 22) were situated a further four graves attributed to this 
phase. These comprised 111, 112, 117 and 120. Grave 111, which was cut to the north by the 
heating duct trench 104, contained parts of an articulated skeleton. Grave 117 contained the 
skeleton of a 45 year old female. However, all that remained of a secondary interment at the 
same location (112) were a few fragments of unarticulated bone. Grave 120 revealed the 
skeletal remains of a 25-35 year old male, but was more notable for a number of artefacts 
found associated with the skeleton. These included fragments of coffin nails, shroud pins 
and a knife blade. 


Phase IV (Figs 4 and 5) 

The latest phase of burial represented in this area seemingly date to between the later 18th 


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Fig. 5. 1974 Excavation Area 1 - phase plans I - IV 



and 19th centuries. A total of five graves were identified, 106, 107, 108, 109 and 110. Spatially 
the graves seem to respect one another, there being no inter cutting and clear stratigraphic 
relationships existed in all cases with respect to the graves attributed to Phase III. Only one 
of these graves, 108, contained articulated bone; in this instance the skeleton of a female 
who had suffered from spina bifida. The skull and other bones of a neonate of less than six 
months of age were also associated with this skeleton. 

Phase V 

The final ground disturbances in this part of the cathedral were represented by the heating 
duct trenches, 104 and 105, which had respectively cut Graves 109 and 108, as well as a 
number of earlier graves. 

Area 2 (Figs 3 and 6) 

Area 2 measured 1.3m by 2.2m and was situated in the sixth bay (from the west) of the 
north aisle). As with Area 1, all pews, concrete pew seating and heating pipes were initially 
removed by building contractors. The first archaeological horizon was represented by layers 
201 and 202 (the equivalent to 101 and 102 in Area 1 ). The removal of this layer, some 0.3m 
deep, revealed the cuts of four east-west graves and a rubble filled foundation trench, 105, 
running across the centre of the trench on the same alignment. Only three phases of activity 
could be discerned in this trench, corresponding with Phases I, II and III/IV in Area 1. 
Details of the graves and burials are recorded in the archive report. 

Phase / (Figs 3 and 6) 

Two graves, 106 and 107, were both cut by the insertion of the Phase II foundation (105). 
On the basis that 105 is probably the foundation for the Norman nave of c. AD 1 100, these 
two graves are potentially of Saxon origin. Both burials contained incomplete skeletal 


remains. 


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103 



Fig. 6. 1974 Excavation Area 2 - plan and section 
Phase II (Figs 3 and 6) 

Foundation 105 measured 0.9m wide in plan and was composed of roughly coursed stone 
rubble (seven courses) of 1 rn depth within a trench with a U-shaped profile. As stated above, 
its position and form are consistent with that of the north wall of the Norman nave of c.1100 
AD (see above). 

Phases III/IV (Figs 3 and 6) 

Two graves, 103 and 104, respectively cut the earlier Phase I graves 106 and 107. Moreover, 
they were positioned in a way that seems to respect wall foundation 105 and the line of the 
later aisle. No diagnostic finds were recovered from the graves and it remains impossible to 
date them with any certainty. All the burials contained incomplete skeletons. 

EXCAVATIONS OF 1980 

In January 1980 excavations were carried out in advance of the construction of Treacy 
Hall to the north of the cathedral nave (Fig. 3). Burials and vaults were recorded as were the 
inscriptions on 205 ledger stones dating from 1718-1875, most of which had been moved 
from the Vicar’s Croft Burial Ground (Fig. 1) when that area closed in the 1930s. 

WATCHING BRIEF OF 1991-2 

The Department of Transport and Engineering in Wakefield MDC carried out works to 
create a new pedestrianised precinct to the south of the cathedral. The grading of the 
churchyard slope exposed large quantities of disturbed human bone. Additionally four 
intact burials in wooden coffins within separate brick built vaults of 19th-century date were 


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located and recorded (Fig. 3). 

WATCHING BRIEF OF 1995 

Three trenches dug by the building contractors were observed. Their location is marked 
on Fig. 3. The small trench located the presumed Norman south nave wall, previously seen in 
the 1974 excavations. The other results in the south aisle have been mentioned above (p.87) 

THE FINDS 

Over 750 artefacts have been recovered from the various excavations at Wakefield cathedral, 
almost exclusively from the work carried out in 1974 and 1980. The vast majority of the 
finds are not diagnostic and few are from meaningful contexts; indeed many are totally 
unprovenanced. Some 495 of the recorded artefacts are residual pottery sherds recovered 
from the grave earth spits, with 98% (484) of these coming from the 1980 excavation trenches. 
The vast majority of the copper alloy artefacts recovered are pins and buttons recovered 
from 19' h -century graves, whilst the majority of iron objects represent coffin furniture of the 
same period. Potentially the most significant item of metalwork recovered, a decorated 
finger-ring from an early grave excavated in 1974, has since been lost. The present report on 
the finger-ring draws upon comments made up to 1982 and a photograph of the artefact. 

Other finds include fragments of textile and wood (from coffins) recovered from the 1974 
work, whilst modest assemblages of glass fragments (74) and clay tobacco pipe fragments 
(59) were recovered from the 1980s trenches. Only the human remains from the 1974 
excavation were removed for examination. Those recorded in 1980 were left in situ and 
were not subject to osteological analysis. 

THE LATE SAXON FINGER-RING WITH COMMENTS BY D. TWEDDLE 

The ring was found associated with the skeleton in Grave 124, excavated in 1974, a grave 
seemingly cut by what is believed to be the foundation for the nave of the 12 th century 
church. The ring, which was still extant in 1982, has since been lost (and has possibly 
disintegrated). A photographic record and a drawing are all that survive in the present 
archive (Fig. 7). The ring appears to have been decorated with a zoomorphic design in the 



Fig. 7. Anglo-Saxon finger-ring from grave 124 

a) initial illustration based upon photographs 

b) interpreted enhancement of design (D. Tweddle) 



RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN RIPON AND WAKEFIELD 


105 


Trewhiddle style, suggesting that it belonged to the Late Saxon period (Faull 1981a, 188). 

Dr Dominic Tweddle comments: The object is quite clearly in the Trewhiddle style. The 
animals are typical in having sub-triangular bodies with small nicks in them and a collar 
round the neck, although they are not particularly well represented in the existing drawing 
(Fig. 7a). A number of finger-rings have bezels decorated with Trewdiddle style animals, 
although the animals are more commonly single than paired. The use of paired animals, 
however, is a consistent theme in northern art in the 10 th and 11 th centuries, and is more 
commonplace on the sculpture of the period. It is suggested that the object is taking a 
southern art style and re-interpreting it in a way which is more familiar in northern England. 
The most likely date is 10 th century. An interpreted enhancement of the design is provided as 
Figure 7b. 

DISCUSSION 

The excavations of 1974 revealed a number of graves that stratigraphically pre-date the 
earliest structural remains on the site. On the presumption that these structural remains 
relate to the early 12 th -century church, these graves assume a potentially pre-Norman date. 
The one artefact that could have unequivocally confirmed a pre-Conquest date for one of 
the early graves was a finger-ring from Grave 124. Its loss is most regrettable, although 
opinion on the basis of the remaining evidence points to a Late Saxon origin. In wider terms 
the existence of a Late Saxon cemetery at Wakefield is very significant, it being just one of 
three now known through excavation in West Yorkshire; the others being at Pontefract 
(Roberts 2002, 9; Wilmott 1987) and Addingham (Adams 1996). 

CONCLUSION 

The excavations at the cathedral have been on too small a scale to provide data that can 
unequivocally substantiate or modify notions about the chronological development of the 
earlier parish church. There is evidence from the 1974 excavations that supports the theory 
that the 12 th -century nave walls were on the line of the present aisle arcades, and more 
significantly that a pre-Norman burial ground lay on the same site. No evidence has been 
found for the Late Saxon church that presumably existed here, although this may not have 
been a structure in stone. 


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

The excavations of 1974 and 1980 were directed by the County Archaeologist Phil Mayes. The 
1974 site work was carried out by Jake Goodband and Andy Swann assisted by Paul Wood and 
Stuart Harrison. The 1980 excavations were supervised by Andy Swann, assisted by Steve Wager, 
Sue Nelson, Phil Swann and Jeny Keighley. Keith Manchester was in attendance on site to record 
human remains. The watching brief in 1991-2 was undertaken by Ian Roberts, Max Adams and 
Alistair Webb. The watching brief in 1995 was carried out by Antony Francis. 

The authors are grateful to Dominic Tweddle for his comments on the finger-ring, earlier 
comments having been made by Hazel Wheeler prior to the ring’s disappearance. With the exception 
of the finger-ring by J. Goodband, all the illustrative work for the report is by Andy Swann. 


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Bibliography 

Adams, M., 1996, ‘Excavation of a pre-Conquest Cemetery at Addingham, West Yorkshire’, 
Medieval Archaeology 40, 151-191 

Francis, A. 1995, ‘Wakefield Cathedral: Watching Brief in the South Aisle’, WYAS Rep226 

Faull, M.L., 1981a, ‘The Late Anglo-Saxon period’, in Faull, M.L. and Moorhouse, SA. West 
Yorkshire: an Archaeological Survey to A. D. 1500, WYMDC, Ch. 14, 187-202 

Faull, M.L., 1981b, ‘The pre-Conquest ecclesiastical pattern’, in Faull, M.L. and Moorhouse, 
S.A. West Yorkshire: an Archaeological Survey to A. D. 1500 \ WYMDC, Ch. 16, 210-223 

Marshall, P.W., 1975, ‘The Cathedral Church of All Saints, Wakefield’, unpublished MS 

Micklethwaite, J.T., 1888, ‘On the Growth of the Fabric of All Saints Church, Wakefield AD 
1100-1530’, in Walker, J.W., 1888, Section III, 36-48, figures 1-7 

Pevsner, N., 1959, The Buildings of England: Yorkshire. The West Riding, 519-520 

Roberts, I. 2002, Pontefract Castle: Archaeological Excavations 1982-86 , Yorkshire 
Archaeology 8 

Ryder, P., 1993, Medieval Churches of West Yorkshire 

Speak, H. and Forrester, J., 1976, The Cathedral Church of All Saints, Wakefield. An Outline 
History and Guide 

Thorp, F. 1975, ‘Yorkshire Archaeological Register’ Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 47, 9 
Walker, J. (Surveyor), 1823, ‘Plan of the Town of Wakefield’, Wakefield Museum 
Walker, J.W., 1888, The History of the Old Parish Church of All Saints, Wakefield 
Walker, J.W., 1934, Wakefield. Its History and People, Vol. 2 
Wilmott, T., 1987, ‘Pontefract’, Current Archaeology 106, 431-444 


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107 


APPENDIX B: LITTLE OUSEBURN [FIG. 8] 

Between 1995-98 a campaign of repair and restoration was undertaken at All Saints, Little 
Ousebnrn under the direction of the architect Peter Pace. During plaster stripping three fragments 
of Anglo-Saxon carving were found incorporated into the fabric. One piece measuring 25 ins. (64 
cm.) long and tapering from 11 to 9 ins. (27 to 23 cm.), was built into the south face of the north nave 
arcade wall. It appeared to be part of a cross shaft decorated along each exposed edge with fifteen 
roundels and an extended ovolo-like moulding. Part of the same cross stands loose against the south 
aisle exterior wall. The second piece (Fig. 8) was built into the west face of the north jamb of the south 
aisle east window. It showed the lower 
part of a robed figure with feet 
emerging from beneath the robe. 

There is a hint of interlace below the 
figure. The nearest parallels are at 
Collingham and Dewsbury of the 
later ninth century, but on those 
crosses the toes are not individually 
carved. This stone was later heavily 
keyed to receive a plaster surface, 
thereby obscuring or removing the 
finer detail. The third stone is at the 
base of the same jamb but faces 
southwards. It appears to show part 
of a different robed figure with the 
folds of the robe gathered together 
and part of a head. Also revealed in 
the plaster clearance was that one of 
the stones forming the north-east 
angle of the tower had on its east 
face a cable moulding; this stone was 
4 ft. above floor level. These stones 
will be the subject of a fuller 
description and analysis by Dr. 

Elizabeth Coatsworth for the Corpus 
of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture. 

To assist rainwater drainage a 
number of gullies and soakaways were 
dug around the church. No structural 
evidence was observed but grave earth 
with 18th-19th century coffin furniture 
was encountered together with a 
rotary quern of gritstone, probably 
of Iron Age date. The west tower was 
placed on a foundation course of 
unmortared field stones or boulders 
15 ins (38 cm.) deep and spreading 
up to 9 ins. (23 cm.) west and south of 
the church without any visible 
foundation trench. The lowest 12 ft. 

(4 m.) of the tower was built of large 
squared gritstone blocks, probably 
robbed from a Roman structure. This 
lower portion of the tower butted 
against the west wall of the nave, which 



0 

L 


20cms 

I 


Fig. 8a. Little Ouseburn: illustration of Late Saxon 
figure sculpture - scale drawing (author) 


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still retained a plastered or lime-washed surface on its external wall where protected by or trapped 
behind the tower masonry. Above 12 ft. the tower was bonded to the nave gable roof. This suggests 
that the earliest part of the nave is circa 850-950, the lower part of the tower is 950-1050, and the 
upper part of the tower and the adjacent nave west gable wall is 1050-1150. The dates given here are 
a general indication in the absence of surviving datable features in situ as occurs at Ledsham and 
Kirk Hammerton; the sequence is clear but the date range is much more open to discussion. 



0 12 ins 


0 30cms 


Fig. 8b. Little Ouseburn: illustration of Late Saxon figure 
sculpture - scale drawing (author) 


Opportunity was also taken to examine at close range the cross on the east gable of the nave. This 
was early 13th century with the figure of Christ crucified (east face) and stiff-leaf foliage on both faces 
and on the underside of the cross’s width. It was formerly on the chancel gable until it was moved 
at the 1875 restoration. 


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APPENDIX C: GILLING WEST [FIGS. 9 10] 

A comprehensive programme of minor works was undertaken from 1995-1999 at St. Agatha’s 
Church under the direction of the church architect Neil Birdsall. During the construction of drainage 
trenches and a soakaway to the north-west of the church a piece of Anglo-Saxon cross head (Fig. 9) 
was found in disturbed ground east of the outer north aisle. It has three strand interlace on both 
faces of the cross arm and a two strand interlace on the terminal end. The width of the cross arm 
is plain and has no evidence for a ringed head. It can be loosely paralleled by other cross heads in the 

church, but is closer to those at Brompton 



Fig. 9a. Gilling West: Late Saxon cross head 
(author) 


top of the early Norman tower; in order to 
support the additional weight the four two-light 
openings were blocked (Fig. 10). The blocking 
masonry within the round-arched openings was 
plainly visible from the exterior, but the window 
blocking can also be seen from within the tower 
where the corbels to support the joists of the bell 
frame are inserted into the north and south walls. 
Until the masonry was briefly removed the form 
of these windows was completely unknown. 
Comparable two light openings separated by a 
single column and a plain capital supporting two 
round headed arches within the larger window 
arch can be seen at towers of similar date, such as 
Campsall, Hornby, Ledsham or Weaverthorpe. 
The only original Norman window still in use is 
an almond-shaped lunette in the south wall. The 
tower stair is a Victorian addition of 1899. 


(Collingwood, E4/19 (1907), 300, k, 1). This 
cross fragment will be more fully described 
by Professor Rosemary Cramp and Dr. 
Derek Craig in a future volume of the 
Corpus of Anglo-Saxon Sculpture. It is 
likely to have been deposited here as part of 
the debris from the 1845 outer north aisle 
construction. Also in a drainage trench west 
of the inner north aisle was a Nuremberg 
jeton issued by Conrad Lauffer (1637-68) of 
Louis XIV type (identified by Craig Barclay 
of the Yorkshire Museum, who refers to M. 
Mitchiner, Jetons, medalets and tokens , /. 
The Medieval Period and Nuremberg 
(Seaby, London, 1988), no. 1764a); it was 
pierced for suspension, perhaps on a 
necklace. 


During extensive repointing of the west 
tower it was discovered that the belfry stage 
of the fifteenth century had been placed on 



Fig. 9b. Gilling West: Late Saxon cross head 
(author) 


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Fig. 10. Gilling West: Early Norman window arch on south face of tower (author) 


An early fourteenth-century grave slab inserted into the ornate tomb recess in the south wall of the 
south aisle close to the east end was examined by a small-scale excavation. The rear wall of the recess 
was unsound and mortar was loosening from the single thickness of stonework allowing damp, mice 
and insects to penetrate the church. The gravestone was removed; the loose earth and stone packing 
upon which it stood was excavated. This filling contained a piece of marble broken from the wall 
tablet to Matthew and Esther Raine (died 1807 and 1838 respectively) fixed above the arched recess. 
The earth rested on Victorian paving of 1845, which continued through from the aisle pavement 
and supported the pew platform. A fuller report was submitted to the architect and to the parochial 
church council (28/3/1995). The medieval grave slab with its floral head and a sword in low relief had 
been recorded by Charles Boutell ( Christian Monuments in England and Wales (London, 1849), 70) 
and, now more accurately, by Peter Ryder in 1995. This slab is now fully visible within the recess 
instead of being partly obscured by wall plaster and hidden behind the pews. 


Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


111 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH 
AT LIVERTON, NORTH RIDING 

By Rita Wood 

The chancel arch capitals, with carving of figures, foliage and both real and imaginary 
animals, embody a unified teaching scheme based on two sermons of St. Augustine of 
Hippo. This scheme covers the Fall, the Incarnation and Christian life here and hereafter. It 
is likely to have been designed by an Augustinian based, at least temporally, at Guisborough 
Priory. Comparisons are made with sculpture locally, in other parts of the county, at Tutbury 
in Staffordshire and even as far away as Milan. The crane and wyverns are among motifs 
discussed. 



Fig. 1 Liverton church from the south (pictures are of Liverton unless otherwise stated) 

INTRODUCTION 

Liverton is a small village on the northern side of the North York Moors above Loftus. It 
is some three miles from the sea, and at a height of about 130m (450ft). The church, now 
dedicated to St Michael but formerly to St Martin, stands on its own at the lower, northern 
end of the village and until about 1900 the old parsonage, a traditional long-house, stood 
nearby. 1 The church has a small nave and a smaller chancel; the nave retains some original 
Norman walling (Fig. 1). Although there has been extensive repair and restoration in 

1 T. M. Fallow, ‘Discoveries at Liverton Church’, Proc. Cleveland Naturalists’ Field Club, 1 (1895- 
1902), p. 254. 


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Fig. 2 General view of the chancel arch 



Fig. 3 Right-side capitals 



modern times, it is evident that no major innovation has occurred since the 1140s when a 
church of similar dimensions was built by some local landholder, perhaps by Niel de 
Liverton. 2 This simple structure was the basic starter church for many a village, and the plain 

2 The Victoria History of the Counties of England: Yorkshire, North Riding ; (London, 1923), II, pp. 
383-4. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


113 


cylindrical font inside it, also much restored, is of the same kind. 3 The nearby settlements at 
Loftus and Easington have lost their medieval churches, but they were probably very similar: 
before demolition they were described as mean, or plain, and humble. 4 

Even before the wave of Victorian improvements, Liverton church was seen to be decay- 
ing and had been restored, so that John Graves writing in 1808 could describe it as ‘a small 
modern-built edifice.’ Thomas Fallow published several views of the exterior as it appeared 
in the late nineteenth century, and it is not immediately recognisable as a medieval church, 
the fenestration giving the impression of a dissenters’ chapel. There was a more extensive, 
historicising, restoration at Liverton in 1901-2. 5 Groups of lancets replaced the sash win- 
dows, but the bell turret that we now see in the new roof replaced an arrangement on the west 
gable which had probably been developed from an original bell-cote. Inside, the work in- 
cluded removing the west gallery, lowering the floor, providing a vestry and enlarging the 
porch. Lord Grimthorpe, Chancellor of the Consistory Court, approving the proposed 
works without having full particulars to hand, noted on the faculty papers ‘the church is 
apparently of no architectural value, except the Norman arch’. It is a surprise and pleasure 
to see an almost intact, elaborate and skilfully-carved twelfth-century chancel arch in such 
simple surroundings (Fig. 2). 

The arch is of three orders, of which the two inner orders have the same chevron 
mouldings while the third has a repeated pattern of masks with stems and leaves coming 
from their mouths. An arch like that would have been sufficient for the average village 
church even if the capitals had been routinely formed and the imposts plain. Here, however, 
the imposts have a stylish foliage pattern (except for a short length at the north end where 
there is some chip carving) and the capitals are individually carved with a variety of animals, 
birds and people (Figs. 3 and 4). These capitals at the chancel arch have the appearance of a 
teaching scheme; this itself is a little unusual as most teaching elsewhere in Yorkshire is on 
the doorways. But Liverton is an exposed place and it would have been practical to 
concentrate the carving inside, on the chancel arch, where everyone could assimilate in 
relative comfort whatever it had to say. 

THE TEACHING SCHEME 
The right side of the arch 

On the right side (Fig. 3), the easternmost or left-hand capital of the three depicts the Fall 
on its main face (Fig. 5). On the left angle of this capital is Adam and on the right, Eve. 
Between them on the north face, extending the apple towards Eve - and towards the 
congregation in the nave - is the serpent in the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As 
is so often the case, the story is conflated, with both the temptation of Eve and the shame of 
the couple being indicated in the one scene. There are two unusual features, one is that 
Adam and Eve do not use leaves to cover themselves but place both hands flat on rectangular 
shapes. These suggest books, such as might be held by apostles, or as are held by the clergy 

3 The jambs of the north doorway can be traced externally, it was only 0.8m wide. The font has been 
restored, with renewed rim and added legs. 

4 J. Graves, The History and Antiquities of Cleveland { Carlisle, 1808), pp. 332, 334. 

5 The restoration work is illustrated in Fallow, ‘Discoveries’, pp. 249-254. Faculty papers including 
plans: Borthwick Institute, Fac. 1901/9. 


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Fig. 5 Adam; the Serpent in the Tree of Knowledge; Eve 



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Fig. 6 The Tree of Life 


carved on the font at Kirkburn - but they 
are, no doubt, the ‘aprons’ ( perizomata ) 
of Genesis 3:7. Adam and Eve made their 
girdles or aprons out of fig-leaves and so 
are usually shown holding a large leaf, as 
locally on East Riding fonts at Langtoft 
and Cowlam, and at Riccall on the door- 
way. At Barton-le-Street, Adam and Eve 
use one large hand alone to cover their 
nakedness, and this is occasionally seen 
elsewhere. The depiction of actual aprons 
seems to be unique to Liverton. The sec- 
ond unusual feature of the carving on this 
capital is that the snake is patterned by 
scattered pitted holes rather than scales 
or lengthwise beading. This treatment is 
not common in Yorkshire but occurs, for 
example, on the various snakes and drag- 
ons on the Langtoft font (formerly at 
Cottam), and on beakheads at Kirkburn 
and Healaugh. Whether it is found in ad- 
jacent parts of county Durham is not 
known. 


At Adam’s right hand, on the east face 
of the capital within the chancel and easily missed, is a small tree with a plaited trunk 
supporting two leaves and a bunch of grapes (Fig. 6). This is presumably the Tree of Life in 
the Garden of Eden, 6 and as a vine it could also refer to the sacramental wine on the nearby 
altar. There is probably more to it than that, for its threefold form as well as its eastward 
position suggest it might be a reference to the Trinity, while the Tree of Life itself reappears 
at the end of the Bible in Revelation as the heavenly reward of the believer. 7 There is a 
threefold tree on the Cottam font too, but it is unlikely the workman was the same. It is a 
novelty which would have been required by the person who decided the content of the 
scheme. 


Next to Eve on the west face of the same capital stands an angel whose narrow wings have 
their tips upward (Fig. 7). The angel cannot be the one posted at the gate of the garden of 
Eden (Gen. 3:24) because he does not hold a sword: this angel stands with his hands empty 
and held irregularly across the body. This is a posture perhaps suggesting fear and awe, even 


6 Compare this tree, especially the leaves, to that on fol. 17 of the Hortus Deliciarum , in the scene of 
the creation of Eve. See Herrad von Landsperg, Hortus Deliciarum , ed. R. Green et al., (London 
1979), Commentary, p. 97. 

7 ‘The tree of Life ... and the grapevine refer to future events in human history. They are typological 
references to the death by crucifixion on a tree of the new Adam, Christ, and to the Eucharist, 
wherein the body that was sacrificed will save humankind.’ R H. Jolly, Made in God’s Image?: Eve 
and Adam in the Genesis Mosaics at San Marco, Venice (Berkeley, 1997), pp. 32-3. 


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astonishment: in a manuscript drawing dated to 
cl 140, a number of angels attending God at the 
Last Judgement stand like this. 8 Those angels 
are stationaiy and their wings are downward- 
pointing. The upward-pointing wings of the an- 
gel in the carving suggest flight, they could indi- 
cate the angel is going on a message. This is per- 
haps Gabriel, the messenger of the Incarnation, 
standing in the presence of God and being sent 
down to earth on this particular errand, as de- 
scribed in Luke 1:26, 27. In English Romanesque 
art, this is ‘a very rare subject of Byzantine ori- 
gin’ and only two examples are known: one in 
the Shaftesbury Psalter of cl 130-40, and the 
other in the later Winchester Psalter. In a twelfth- 
century drawing in a Byzantine source the angel 
is shown twice in the same scene, standing to 
receive God’s command and flying down to 
earth, his wings pointing upwards. 9 In these 
three drawings, facial expressions together 
with gesture express amazement among the an- 
gels at the commission: the position of the an- 
gel’s hands in the carving may convey something 
of this surprise. The carved imagery is severely 
conflated, more so than for the Fall on the north 
face of the capital, for all that is shown is the 
angel, and neither God nor Mary. The angel here represents the Incarnation of Christ, in 
particular bringing to mind his death, which was necessitated by the Fall. 


Fig. 7 The Angel 


Gabriel’s errand is to Mary, the ‘daughter’ of Eve. Many parallels and contrasts were made 
between Eve and Mary in the West in the period, for example, the eleventh-century bronze 
doors at Hildesheim show Eve suckling Cain opposite Mary suckling Jesus. The Incarna- 
tion reversed the Fall, it made possible the ‘rising again’ of man, that is, his resurrection, 
ascension and return to the heavenly paradise prepared for him by God in the beginning. 
The scenes on the Hildesheim doors are placed so that the Genesis narrative reads down the 
left side, and the gospel reads upwards on the right, a visual fall and rising. 10 Elsewhere, 
Byzantine-style twelfth- and thirteenth-century mosaics of the Virgin at Venice, Murano and 


8 C. M. Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, 1066-1190 (London 1975), fig. 102 (Cambridge 
Pembroke Coll. 120, fol. 6v). For a similar human gesture, see R. Wood, ‘The Augustinians and the 
Romanesque Sculpture at Kirkburn Church’, East Yorkshire Historian, 4 (2003), p. 41, pi. 31. 

9 For rarity and Shaftesbury Psalter fol. 12v, see Kauffmann, Romanesque Manuscripts, Cat. 48 
and fig. 131. For both Winchester Psalter fol. 10, and Shaftesbury, see K. E. Haney, The Winchester 
Psalter, an Iconographic Study (Leicester, 1986), pis. 9, 82; pp. 94-5. For the Byzantine example, see 
C. Stornajolo, Miniatures of the Homilies of Giacomo monaco (Rome, 1910), p. 48. 

10 J. Beckwith, Early Medieval Art: Carolingian, Ottonian, Romanesque (London, 1969), ill. 135. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


117 



Fig. 8 Man and foliage trails 

Torcello are bordered by texts which link Eve with Mary. 11 The antithesis in the Eve-Mary 
theme tempted the rhetorician in many writers. An exponent of this reciprocity in the early 
twelfth century was Bernard of Clairvaux, who in a sermon on the verses in Luke said 
‘Rejoice, Eve, rejoice in such a daughter...’, and in another sermon, ‘if man fell by a woman, 
he is raised up by a woman’. 12 But the antithesis had long been recognised, Augustine of 
Hippo had said ‘It was through a woman that we were cast into destruction, through a 
woman that salvation was restored to us’. 13 Appropriate to the carving is an even earlier text, 
of Tertullian: ‘As Eve believed the serpent, so Mary believed the angel.’ 14 

The capital of the second order is smaller than either of those flanking it, and contains 
only a man’s head with foliage trails coming from the mouth, a motif which is common in 
Romanesque sculpture (Fig. 8). Foliage is not primarily decorative, but was capable of carrying 

11 O. Demus, Mosaics of San Marco , 1 (Chicago, 1988), p. 40. Demus remarks that ‘the parallel 
between Eve and the Virgin is hardly to be found in Byzantium: it was a Western idea, and the three 
Venetian inscriptions seem to be the only examples of it in the Byzantine colonial sphere’. 

12 Bernard of Clairvaux, PL 183, col. 62. 

13 Augustine of Hippo, sermons 188.3; 184.2; 289.2. See The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons , III/ 
6, trans. E. Hill, (New York, 1993); III/8, trans. E. Hill, (New York, 1994). For the sophisticated 
exercise of antithesis, see H. Maguire, Art and Eloquence in Byzantium (Princeton, 1994), pp. 53-83. 

14 Tertullian, ‘On the Flesh of Christ’, ch. 17, in Ante-Nicene Christian Library , XV/2, ed. A. Roberts 
&J. Donaldson (Edinburgh, 1870), pp. 200-01. 


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Fig. 9 The boar hunt 

powerful messages: it represented Christ the Vine, or the life-giving blood of Christ, and so 
eternal life. Whereas classical art had used evergreen foliage to picture life after death, 
Christian art used deciduous foliage, paralleling the resurrection by the life-out-of-death 
display of fresh springing leaves. Foliage coming from a man’s mouth therefore suggests he 
is filled with and exhaling the abundant new life of heaven won for him by Christ’s incarna- 
tion and death. 15 In this instance it also recalls the threefold tree, the heavenly reward, on the 
east face of the first capital. 

The capital of the third order, at the right hand side and next to the nave, shows a boar 
hunt (Fig. 9). On the north face is a hunter blowing his horn and two dogs, and to the right 
is a third dog which has taken hold of the boar but is trampled under its foot, a fate which 
would have been plainly visible to the people in the nave. As with the foliage on the previous 
capital, this entertaining genre scene is more than it may appear to be, and contains basic 
teaching. In Psalm 80: 13 a boar comes out of the wood and destroys a vineyard, by which the 
psalmist meant that other nations threatened Israel, God’s people. Medieval Christian 
exegesis would have understood the verse to mean that evil spiritual forces are capable of 
damaging the Church. The boar would therefore symbolise the Devil. In an actual 
boar-hunt, the huntsman led a pack of dogs, and tried to control the movements of the wild 


15 R. Wood, ‘Before the Green Man’, Medieval Life, 14 (2000), pp. 8-13. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


119 



Fig. 10 Beakhead, foliage and wyvern 


creature so that it could eventually be cornered and killed. Good dogs stayed by the 
huntsman waiting for commands, impetuous dogs tangled with the boar on their own 
and suffered the consequences. In an allegorical interpretation of the boar-hunt, the hunts- 
man with his horn symbolises the earthly authority of the Church - anyone perhaps, from St 
Peter to the parish priest, who taught the people. The boar is only finally ‘killed’ at the 
Second Coming of Christ . 16 This carving of the boar-hunt cautions the viewer not to take 
redemption for granted: listening and responding to the commands of the huntsman is vital 
if one wishes to survive the trials of the world and reach the heavenly life symbolised in the 
second capital by the man’s head emitting foliage and on the first by the Tree of Life. The 
three capitals on the right of the arch are a unit, teaching about the Fall, Salvation, life in the 
Church and the hope of heaven. These carvings must provide the most concise summary 
possible of God’s plan of Salvation, but they would have been capable of endless extension 
according to the capabilities of the teacher. 


16 The iconography of the boarhunt as found in England is discussed in R. Wood, ‘The Roman- 
esque Font at St Marychurch, Torquay’, Proc. Devon Archaeol. Soc., 63, (2005), pp. 79-98, 
especially pp. 89-95. 


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Fig. 11 Mask, foliage and little lion 


The left side of the arch 

After that tour-de-force, what subject could possibly remain for the carvings on the left 
side of the arch (Fig. 4)? In the outer capitals there are five complete creatures and the heads 
of two others used as volutes; there is much foliage on the capital on the right; the small 
capital in the centre has a woven pattern. It is surely unlikely that all this is empty decoration 
when so much meaning has been condensed into the three capitals on the right side of the 
arch. On the left side there are no human figures, there is no suggestion of narrative or 
allegory as appears on the right. The whole content of this left side is evidently symbolic, it 
is to be read as a metaphor of spiritual things, in the anagogical sense. The three capitals on 
the left can be shown to have one main subject, which is life in the regained “heavenly 



THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


121 


paradise”, and it is surely appropriate that, if the capitals on the right stress sin, suffering 
and obedience on earth, these on the left might encourage thoughts of eternal bliss. 

The bold foliage is similar on the eastern capitals both left and right of the arch. Foliage is 
lavish in Eden and would similarly have paradisal associations in the opposite capital too 
(Figs. 10, 11 compare Figs. 5, 6). The heads on the angles of the capital nearest the chancel 
emit foliage as does the ‘green man’ in the central capital on the right side, but with the 
important difference that while the man’s head is regular and he can be seen as a sympathetic 
and ‘good’ character, 17 the two bestial heads on the left are self-evidently ‘bad’. One of these 
volutes is a beakhead (Fig. 10), familiar from many Yorkshire doorways which they ring in a 
menacing crowd with their massive beaks and glaring eyes; the other volute is a vaguely 
catlike mask of a type which is also quite common, particularly in corbels (Fig. 1 1 ). Both are 
un-natural creatures with a threatening aspect and can be understood as picturing evil 
spirits or demons. 18 However, in this case both motifs have been distorted, they have been 
deliberately made lopsided. The beakhead’s beak is twisted; of the mask, one ear and one 
eye is up and the other down. These two malevolent creatures look as though they have been 
in a fight and lost: they are lesser versions of Satan in a Harrowing of Hell scene, who is 
trussed up, trampled on and pinned down by the victorious Christ. 19 Whereas Death was 
forced to give up Adam and Eve and a crowd of the dead, these two individual demons have 
been forced to emit the swags of foliage in the upper part of the capital. A bestial mask 
emitting foliage embodies in a direct and simple manner the same idea as a complex narra- 
tive illustration of the Harrowing of Hell - that death is forced to yield its prey to Christ, that 
there is life after death for believers. 

Below the foliage, resting on the cable-moulded ring, are two lion-headed creatures. The 
one on the right, best seen from the chancel, is a complete little lion (Fig. 11). It emits one 
foliage leaf from its mouth and has a tail which is tipped with another leaf. The simple tail of 
this small lion may be compared to elaborated ones on those bolder lions in Romanesque 
sculpture which represent Christ. 20 There are three lion-headed creatures in total on the left 
hand capitals. None are given lavish manes, nor do they look directly at the viewer: these 
creatures are modest individuals, part of the composition and not the centre of it. They 
could represent man reborn in heaven, ‘a new creature’ made like Christ, a younger, adopted, 
brother of the resurrected Christ, who is leo fortis , the strong lion (John 20:17, Romans 
8:23). The leafy tongue of the small lion is comparable in meaning to the foliate breath 


17 The symmetry, and thus perfection, of those in heaven is clear in more-developed examples, see 
E. Kitzinger, ‘Some Reflections on Portraiture in Byzantine Art’, in The Art of Byzantium and the 
Medieval West, (Bloomington, 1976), VIII, pp. 264-267. This essay compares the depiction of the 
blessed with that of the living. 

IH The presence of devils ready to pounce was taken for granted in the early medieval period, see for 
example Bede on the life of Fursey, History of the English Church and People , III. 19; and Eadmer 
in his Life of Anselm, 11.18; in drawings evil spirits are shown waiting at the deathbed to carry off the 
souls of sinners, or pulling climbers off the ladder to heaven. 

19 For example, Tiberius Psalter, fol. 14r, see F. Wormald, ‘An English eleventh-century Psalter with 
pictures’, BQoo/o 5oc., 38 (1962), pi. 16. 

20 Resurrexit dominus hodie, leo fortis, christ us filius dei is part of a 10th c. trope for Easter in the 
Winchester Troper. It appears in the Quem queritis dialogue, a very widespread formula, see The 
Winchester Psalter, ed. W. H. Frere, Henry Bradshaw Soc. 8 (London, 1894), pp. 17, xvi-xvii. For a 
lion representing the resurrected Christ, see R. Wood, ‘The Romanesque Tomb-slab at Bridlington 
Priory’, YAJ, 75 (2003), pp. 73-4, fig. 9. 


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Fig. 12 Lion and bird 


emitted by the man in the centre capital on the right side. 

Whereas the small lion on the right of the capital is a complete more-or-less natural animal, 
the lion’s head next to it is combined with other parts to make another, larger, invented 
creature that fills the remainder of the capital (Fig. 10). It has the head of a lion, the scaly 
neck of a snake, a pair of winged forelegs and a scaly and beaded tail: this creature is termed 
a wyvern, and is a combination of the lion with a snake. In bestiaries the wyvern is dealt with 
under the general heading of ‘Snake’ and may be illustrated with or without wings. Although 
there are understandably many negative anecdotes about snakes, the text usually includes a 
positive one derived from Roman classical tradition which saw in the snake’s shedding of its 
skin and the revealing of a ‘new’ body a suggestion of eternal life. 21 There is an example on 
the tympanum at Dinton (Bucks) where two lion-headed wyverns flank the Tree of Life and 
an accompanying inscription certifies the interpretation of these animals as representing 
the blessed in eternal life. 22 On a tympanum at Knook (Wilts) a wingless wyvern and a lion 

21 J. H. Wheatcroft, ‘Classical Ideology in the Medieval Bestiary’, in The Mark of the Beast , ed. D. 
Hassig (New York, 1999), pp. 141-159. 

22 L. Musset, Angleterre Romane, 1 (Saint-Leger,1967), pi. 6. For the inscription and a translation, 
see C. Keyser, Tympana and^Lintels , 2nd ed. (London, 1927), p. xxx. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


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Fig. 13 Bird and bird-lion 


together inhabit the symmetrical foliage of the Tree of Life. 23 On the capital at Liverton the 
two creatures, the small lion and the wyvern, are therefore seen in “Paradise”, and perhaps 
they are singing praises to God, since they both have their heads turned upwards and 
eastwards, that is, towards the altar. The angels and the blessed were understood to be 
singing eternal praises, being joined in this activity by earthly worshippers. 

Further creatures are on the capital nearest the nave (Figs. 12, 13). Here there is another 
small lion, a large bird straddling the angle and a beaked, winged quadruped sucking its leafy 
tail. The lion (Fig. 12) is similar to the small one in the chancel though it does not emit foliage 
but bares two rows of even teeth instead. These are not the pointed teeth of a predator but 
the square ones of a man or a herbivore: it is a peaceful lion - a new sort of lion. The beaked 
quadruped on the south face of this capital (Fig. 13) has wings from its forelegs as does the 
wyvern in the capital near the chancel. The creature does not have ears, so it is not a griffin: 
it is a creature combining the features, and symbolic qualities, of bird and lion. It is a new 
creature, another invention giving form to the unknown spiritual body that believers will 
have in the resurrection life (1 Cor. 15:35-38). The bird portion could well be of the same 
species as the large bird on the angle, the last creature remaining to be discussed. 


23 Keyser, Tympana , pi. 34; R. Wood, ‘The Two Lions at Milborne Port’, Somerset Archaeology & 
Natural History, 141 (1998), fig. 2, pp. 4-5. 


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The bird on the angle stands frontally (Figs. 12, 13) and, whereas in a broader or more 
sophisticated capital the body could project forwards so that the bird’s wings would be held 
up, displayed or extended in a natural way, here there is too little depth, and no room at all 
to the sides because of the other animals, which are themselves upended for lack of space. 
The sculptor has crossed the wings in front of the bird in an unnatural manner. The bird has 
thick strong legs with long-clawed feet, and between them the tail can be seen. A bird on the 
angle like this is quite common on capitals on the continent. In Germany or Italy it would 
routinely be described as an eagle and, while this may sometimes be reasonable, alternative 
species should perhaps be considered. In particular, the characteristic beak of an eagle 
would not be well-illustrated by the beak of the bird on the angle at Liverton, which is evenly- 
curved and tapered, not bent or hooked. It is certain, however, that this bird is too heavy in the 
beak and too thick or long in the leg to be the favourite bird of early Christian art, the dove. 

The eagle was much used in classical art, which had such an influence on Christian forms. 
Familiarity with the earlier work may account for the widespread assumption in Italy and 
Germany that a bird on the angle of a Romanesque capital must be an eagle: but by the 
twelfth century many other sources were influential. There are more birds carved in 
England, not dissimilar from Liverton’s, which have heavy beaks, strong legs and a displayed 
rail, for example, at Hampnett (Gloucs) and at Melbourne (Derbyshire). In three out of the 
four examples in Figure 14 the birds hold a stone in one foot, which attribute is enough to 
define them as cranes, according to bestiary texts. 24 The birds at bottom right (from Mel- 
bourne) are long-beaked, long-legged birds with large tails, so they resemble cranes, and they 
are in the heavenly context of abundant symmetrical foliage. None of the birds is holding a 
stone but since they are depicted in heaven they certainly need no longer be standing on 
guard. The bird on the angle at Liverton has the straight tail and short legs of the Hampnett 
birds rather than the natural crane’s distinctive flounced tail and long legs as at Melbourne, 
bottom left. Both cranes and eagles might have been seen in the skies of Norman England 
but, as with foliage, sculptors followed conventional models which were only tokens of 
physical reality. 25 

The crane was more popular with the authors of the bestiaiy than the eagle was, for while 
a number of largely negative anecdotes are attached to the eagle, the crane could support a 
unified, lengthy and positive narrative - this bird ‘can teach the nature of religious life’. 26 The 
bestiaries say that cranes holding stones represent those who watch faithfully through the 
night of this world on behalf of their companions. 27 Combining this character with a revi- 
sion for Christian use of the old fable of the Fox and the Crane, the bird became the symbol 
of one who would eventually feast at the heavenly banquet as a reward for his steadfast 
faithfulness. This fable was illustrated at Melbourne, where the worn carving to the right of 


24 For a photograph of the two cranes drinking from a chalice, see M. Tisdall, God’s Beasts 
(Plymouth, 1998), fig. 125. Despite the caption, the birds are not doves because each clutches a stone. 
For the examples at Melbourne, see Wood, ‘The Romanesque Church at Melbourne’, Derbyshire 
Archaeol. J., 126 (2006), pp. 133, 144-46; fig. 5, plates 4, 13. 

25 D. Hill, ‘The Crane and the Gyrfalcon in Anglo-Saxon England’, Medieval Life, 3 (1995), p. 32, 
and cover illus. 

26 The Aberdeen bestiary fol.46 on Grues, the crane. See web-site at www.abdn.ac.uk/bestiary. 

27 T. H. White, The Book of Beasts (London, 1954 reprinted Stroud, 1992), pp. 110-12. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


125 




Fig. 14 The Crane at Hampnett (Gloucs), top and Melbourne (Derbys), bottom 

the chalice is of a fox reaching up but unable to drink (Fig. 14, bottom left). 28 Contrast this 
teaching about the afterlife, so appropriate to the suggested context at Liverton, with one of 
the favourable anecdotes about the eagle: the bird is a model for ‘flying high’ to seek refresh- 
ment with God, and thus gaining renewed strength to return to daily living. 29 This moral, 
related to life on earth not to life in heaven, makes the eagle unlikely to be the species carved 
on the left side of the chancel arch at Liverton. 

If the bird were indeed a crane and represented one of the flock of the faithful in heaven, 
it would be a fitting counterpart to the good dogs belonging to the pack on the opposite 
capital, who represent the faithful among the congregation. The carvings would then present 
to the parishioners in the nave the faithful (the huntsman and the two obedient dogs) as 
transformed into the inhabitants of heaven (the crane and the two other creatures). This 
change seems to be paralleled in another scheme with a boar hunt, that on a doorway at 
Little Langford (Wiltshire), where there are three dogs with their huntsman on the lintel 
and, in the tympanum, three dove-like birds sitting in foliage next to St. Peter (Fig. 15). 30 



28 also Wood, ‘Bridlington’, pp. 71, 73; fig. 6. 

29 White, Book of Beasts, pp. 105, 107. An eagle in profile flying upwards is carved at Stillingfleet 
on a voussoir of the south doorway, one of three creatures enacting some allegory. The beak is clearly 
hooked and the tip overlaps the lower mandible. 

30 As well as the boar-hunt, a number of other subjects and forms at Little Langford occur at 
churches mentioned in this paper: a capital with a woven pattern, and next to it, one with a 
symmetrical man and foliage trails: this distorted figure is woven into the foliage trails as figures are 
at Melbourne. In the tympanum there is a panel of star pattern, compare fig. 18 (Kirk Levington). 
See Wood, ‘St Marychurch’, pp. 94; 95-96. 


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Fig. 15 Little Langford (Wilts): doorway (photo: Michael Tisdall) 


The ‘gesture’ the bird makes with its wings is not a natural one. No bird can physically 
stand like this: this is a human posture, and consistent with the bird representing a human 
being. Just as the gesture of the angel on the other side of the arch accords with its narrative 
significance, expressing awe and surprise, so this abnormal position of the wings could 
describe the attitude of the human soul in heaven. The tip of the bird’s beak is sunk in its 
breast, which may be a further meaningful detail and not just a practical precaution at the 
angle. Human postures with the head lowered and the hands folded across the bowed body 
suggest inwardness, self-effacement and humility, and were used in personifications of Piety 
in Regensburg manuscripts of the 1020s. : 31 

The middle capital on the left side is again a small one, and it has only a pattern, but it 
should not be overlooked on either account (Fig 4). Grid patterns were used to indicate 
‘heaven’ in manuscript illuminations, 32 and woven patterns may have borrowed some 
importance from earlier insular patterning of a more elaborate kind. The woven pattern is 
not common in English Romanesque sculpture, but tends to be found on chancel arches as, 
for example, at Healaugh, West Riding. 33 The purity and regularity of geometric forms were 
thought a fitting equivalent for the highest spiritual presence. 34 Considering the three left- 


31 H. Mayr-Harting, Ottoman Book Illumination: an historical study, I, (London, 1999), figs. 76, 77, 
figures labelled pie tat is and pietas in corner ornaments ( Uta Codex, Montecassino Gospel Book). 
For posture, compare Wood, ‘Kirkburn’, fig. 34. 

32 R. Wood, ‘Geometric Patterns in English Romanesque Sculpture’, J.B.A.A., 154 (2001), pp. 12-14. 

33 Wood, ‘Patterns’, p. 17, figs. 20, 21. 

34 See M. H. Caviness, ‘Images of Divine Order and the Third Mode of Seeing’, Gesta, 22/2 (1983), 
pp. 99-120. 


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Fig. 16 Chancel arch, outer order 


hand capitals as a group, this central one with its pattern may suggest the holy of holies in the 
centre of heaven. 35 

The potential for using this chancel arch as a visual aid extends into the imposts and 
arches. The two orders of chevron mouldings frame the chancel space and suggest the power 
and glory of God’s presence on the altar there (Fig. 2). 36 The imposts (Figs. 3, 4) and the 
outer arch (Figs. 2, 16) are rich in foliage patterns. The foliage in the arch is emitted by 
bestial masks which resemble those often seen glaring from corbels. These things again 
suggest resurrection and heaven. 

COMPARISONS, SOURCES AND QUESTIONS 
Local comparisons 

There is little that can be discovered about the builders of the basic nave and chancel. 
Related or nearby churches of the period have either been demolished or are radically 
altered from their original form: Hilton and Kirk Levington are the nearest, most complete 
buildings for comparison. However, questions about the origins of the sculptors of the 
chancel arch and of their models, and about the designer of the particular teaching scheme 
in the capitals may fruitfully occupy the rest of this paper. 

The gift of the church to Guisborough Priory by Henry son of Conan took place some 
time after 1170 and was confirmed in 1218. At the time it was built therefore, in the 1 130s or 
40s, Liverton church was in lay hands, it was the small church of a small lord. The highly- 
skilled men who must have been involved in making the chancel arch were no doubt prima- 
rily in the area to serve a great church or a religious community, that is, either Guisborough 
Priory or Whitby Abbey (respectively Augustinian and Benedictine communities). 37 
Unfortunately, little sculpture of the early twelfth century remains for comparison at either 


35 Compare Hildegard of Bingen, Scivias , trs. B. Hozeksi (Santa Fe, 1986), vision 6, miniature 
9, p. 66. 

36 Wood, ‘Patterns’, pp. 22-25. 

37 The priory of Handale or Grendale was founded in 1133 by William Percy of Dunsley in a valley 
south of Loftus and east of Liverton. It was a small Cistercian nunnery that has left little historical 
or material record, see VCH YorkshirelW, p. 165. 


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Fig. 17 Kirk Levington: chancel arch capitals with bird 

site. Sculpture from Guisborough exhibited in 1993 included only one item datable before 
the late twelfth century, this was a corbel with a mask which is similar, but not similar 
enough, to masks on the label at Liverton. 38 Whitby Abbey has yielded a few fragments of 
12th century sculpture, but nothing that resembles the Liverton work. 39 No obvious base 
suggests itself from which the clerical designer of the scheme or the craftsmen might have 
come. 

Luckily, the manorial situation gives a strong hint as to where Liverton’s loyalties lay. The 
mesne lords were the Brus family, and Robert de Brus had founded Guisborough Priory 
some time between 1119 and 1124, while his brother William was the prior until at least 
1132, perhaps until 1139. Robert himself died about 1141, but the family remained patrons 
of the priory up to the Dissolution. 40 Of the local churches in the foundation gift, there is 
little if any twelfth-century fabric left at Danby and Skelton, the chief places in the Brus 
lordship. At Kirk Levington church however, another in the gift, something of the chancel 
arch survives and this includes a (now headless) bird on the angle of a capital (Fig. 17). On 
both sides of the chancel arch, carving extends onto the ‘wing’ of the capital of the outermost 
order to include a lion: at Liverton the boar is in this position." Opposite the bird is a capital 
with a man’s head on the angle, accompanied by a panel with chip-carved stars and another 
incised with a geometric pattern (Fig. 18). If the bird is a crane and teaches endurance in the 
hope of final reward, this teaching is reinforced by the motif of the man’s head with stars, a 
veiy literal representation of man in heaven. The motifs of the man among stars and the man 
emitting foliage are equivalent since both picture man living in the after-life. The use of star 
patterns rather than foliage at Kirk Levington suggests an earlier date than the Liverton 


38 Romanesque: Stone sculpture from Medieval England, ed. B. Hevwood, (Leeds, 1993), p. 44, pi. 
15. 

39 Two small masks are exhibited by English Heritage at the Abbey. Photographs in the Conway 
Library show further fragments but, again, nothing resembling the sculpture discussed in this paper. 

40 VCH North Riding ; 2, pp. 383-4. For William, see Janet Burton, The Monastic Order in Yorkshire 
1069-1215 , (Cambridge, 1999), p. 78. The Brus monument in Guisborough parish church came from 
the Priory church adjacent, as did the tile mosaic reset around it. 

41 The chancel arch at Adel, near Leeds, also has carving in this position, but it is not common there. 
Motifs at Adel quite often recur in the Wolds area. 


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Fig. 18 Kirk Levington chancel arch: man and stars 


work, as does the character of the contemporary south doorway with its orders of shallow 
chevrons and the same compact, voluted capitals (Fig. 19). 42 But the chancel arch at Liverton, 
for all its foliage, also has that short length of chip-carving at the north end of the impost, 
so the two styles were in a period of overlap. 

In the mid twelfth century the Brus family were the mesne lords at Easington, as they were 
at Liverton, with the Rossel family as under-tenants. 43 The patronage of the church 
was bequeathed to Guisborough priory by Roger de Rossel sometime between 1 154 and 
1186. 44 The present nineteenth-century church at Easington preserves most of its twelfth- 
century chancel arch reset in a balcony room at the first stage of the tower: the carving is 
likely to be earlier than the date of the gift to the priory. 45 This arch too has a bird on the 
angle of one capital; unfortunately it also is headless (Fig. 20). There are, or 
were, two heads of men on the corners of other capitals, and these men emit foliage trails 
(Fig. 21, compare Fig. 8). The chancel arches at Kirk Levington and Easington have limited 
teaching in their capitals compared with that at Liverton, nor is either arch as large, 
however, all three churches had some recorded connection to Guisborough Priory, and all 

42 VCH North Riding ; II, pp. 262-3 with drawing of chancel arch. The nave was entirely rebuilt on 
old foundations in 1888. The original south doorway was reused, and looks to be of early date. The 
second order had octagonal shafts, but all the decoration is geometric. 

43 Liverton formed a parochial chapelry to Easington in 1587, VCH North Riding, ; II, p. 340. 

44 VCH North Riding, ; II, pp. 340, 342, 336. Roger was a priest. 

45 VCH North Riding. ; II, p. 342; pi. opp. p. 344. Easington is about 2 miles east of Loftus. Loftus was 
waste and had a church (but not a priest) in 1086; the church was given to Guisborough Priory some 
time between c. 1180 and 1205 by William de Sauchay, VCH North Riding, II, p. 386. A pattern, 
perhaps derived from hanging lamps, is used on one capital and has otherwise only been seen on a 
capital at Kirkburn church, which is usually dated to c. 1140. 




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three chancel arches have a bird 
straddling the angle of a capital, 
a motif otherwise rare or 
unknown in England. The 
appearance of each bird is 
distinct (Figs. 12, 17, 20). 
Liverton has a bird whose pose is 
uniquely adapted to the teaching 
scheme, Kirk Levington and 
Easington have birds with spread 
wings, which is the usual pose 
on the continent. At Kirk 
Levington the model seems not to 
have been taken from sculpture 
but from a drawing, and the 
Easington bird, though having 
conventional sculptural 
treatment of the wings, does not 
have the heavy legs of the bird at 
Liverton but more those of a dove. 
Placing a bird on the angle is 
therefore not due to the fancy of 
a single workman but must have 
originated with those in charge 
of the content, those who supplied 
the models and described the 
desired effect to the various 
workmen. 



The designer Fig. 19 Kirk Levington: south doorway 

It may be necessary to remind the reader at this point that the Augustinians were not 
monks but regular canons, they were priests who lived in communities; the order came to 
favour in England in the early twelfth century because of its potential for efficient parochial 
work. In this regard the authority over them would have been that of the local bishop, that is, 
at this time in Yorkshire, Archbishop Thurstan, whose name appears in charters as encour- 
aging donations to the order. 46 A study of sculpture at Kirkburn church in the East Riding, 
which had been part of the foundation gift to Guisborough priory, showed corbel sculpture 
was placed with a practical concern for effective teaching, in that individual corbel subjects 
each embodying extended teaching were grouped on the south side of the nave, with a more 
general array of corbels on the less frequented north side. 47 Good lighting and shelter may 
have been considered here, as well as the oft-cited symbolic opposition of dark and light. 


46 For instances of Thurstan’s involvement, seej. C. Dickinson, The Origins of the Austin Canons 
and their Introduction into England ’, (London, 1950), pp. 127-8, and the gift by Robert and William 
Fossard (discussed in the section below on the designer; notes 54-56). 

47 Wood, ‘Kirkburn’, p. 25, etc. 


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Fig. 20 Easington: bird on reconstructed chancel arch 

Certainly local climate could have influenced the placing of sculptural schemes inside 
churches on the north side of the North York Moors, rather than on their doorways. There 
are no remains of a doorway with sculpture at Liverton, but the greater part of any teaching 
material must surely have been on the chancel arch. At Kirk Levington it is the carving on 
the chancel arch (Figs. 17, 18) rather than the doorway (Fig. 19) that has the lessons. There 
are two entwined serpents on one capital, but that seems to be all that has been added to a 
standard early twelfth-century doorway. 

In the East Riding it has been observed that the Augustinians could be involved in sculp- 
ture at churches which they did not hold, and this seems to have been the case at Liverton 
and Easington, which both had lay patrons. At Bridlington and Kirkburn the Augustinians 
used the fable of the Fox and Crane to embody for the layman the idea of perseverance in this 
world and reward in the next. 48 However, it has been suggested above, from the parallel with 
the tympanum at Little Langford (Wilts.), that at Liverton the crane might represent the 
resurrection body of the huntsman, that is, the one who guides the believers, most obviously, 
their priest. Some bestiary manuscripts use the flock of cranes to allude to an ideal commu- 
nity of brothers, fratres, stressing, for example, the co-operative behaviour a flock of cranes. 49 
These passages seem to be describing communities of Austin canons, for the term fratres 


48 Aesop’s fable tells of the meals given by the Fox to the Crane and vice versa. This was reworked 
at some stage to give the Fox a bad character, and the meal at which the patient Crane can at last 
feast becomes one in heaven. Other cranes are, for example, carved at Kirkburn, Bridlington and 
Melbourne (Derbys.), in each case in an Augustinian scheme. 

49 See Wood, ‘Melbourne’, p.45, for a flock of Cranes as a symbol of an Augustinian community. 



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Fig. 21 Easington: man and foliage trails 


was applied to them by others as well as being used between themselves . 50 It seems only 
reasonable to suggest that the designer of the teaching scheme in the capitals of the chancel 
arch at Liverton would have been an Augustinian, and one likely to have been based, at least 
temporarily, at Guisborough. 

As with workmen, there is virtually nothing that can be known of designers except by 
tracing the distinctive features of their work. We cannot be sure they travelled to all the 
places for which they produced designs, though it would seem practical, even necessary. 
Regular canons did not take vows of stability or enclosure as monks did, and in the early 
twelfth century they might expect to live away from their community house for a period in 
order to minister at a parochial church, or perhaps indeed for this more specialised work . 51 
These works in Yorkshire may not be without comparison. J. C. Dickinson mentions the 
house of St. Ruf, in the south of France, which ‘in the late eleventh and early twelfth centu- 
ries... ranked among the finest flowers of the order..’, this house ‘was the centre of an 


50 The Aberdeen bestiary seems to be written for a community, comparing to cranes ‘those discern- 
ing brothers who provide temporal goods for their brethren in common and have a special concern 
for each one of the community. They watch over the obedience of their brothers, as tar as they can, 
protecting them prudently from the assaults of devils and the incursions of this world’ (fol. 46r); 
translation from web-site, see note 26. On the use of the word fratres (brothers) for the Augustinians, 
E. J. Dobson, The Origins of Ancrene Wisse, (Oxford, 1976), p. 42-45, says that the members of 
Augustinian congregations were regularly called fratres in their legislation, and that writers in the 
thirteenth century likened the preaching friars (also fratres) to the Augustinians. The Bridlington 
Dialogue uses the term, see Robert of Bridlington: The Bridlington Dialogue: an exposition of the 
Rule of St Augustine for the life of the Clergy , trails, and ed. a religious of C.S.M.V. (London, 1960). 
Monks would presumably have' addressed those among them who were priests as pater. 

51 Robert of Bridlington: Dialogue , pp. 32-37. Also discussed in Dickinson, Origins, pp. 219-20. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT L1VERTON 


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Fig. 22 Lythe: man and foliage trails 


important school of architects and sculptors’. 52 Where in England might our regular canon 
skilled in the art of design have been based? Some features of the design at Kirkburn can be 
related to that at Melbourne in Derbyshire: 53 if the same man had worked also at Liverton, 
it seems likely that he would have been permanently based at a priory more central that 
Guisborough. In this regard it may be worth noting that the motif of the man and foliage 
trails (Fig. 8), occurs not only in the reconstructed chancel arch at Easington (Fig. 21) but in 
a somewhat similar form at Lythe (Fig. 22). The head on the loose capital extends up into the 
impost, which is an improvement on the Easington example, but a shared feature is a deep 
hollow moulding enclosing large domes, this is used at Easington on the second order of the 
arch, whereas at Lythe it seems to have decorated the jamb. Lythe church and an estate of 10 
oxgangs had been given, not to Guisborough, but to Nostell Priory by Robert Fossard and 
William his son, this was at its foundation in 1121. 51 Nostell was the first Augustinian house 
in Yorkshire, and although this priory received many gifts from the other Ridings, Lythe is 
the only church given to it from the North Riding. 55 Niel Fossard gave with it churches and 
land at Wharram-le-Street in the East Riding, and Bramham in the West Riding; the three 
were combined as a prebend of York Minster by Archbishop Thurstan: the canons had 

52 Dickinson, Origins , pp. 42, 194. Recent works mention priories of the order in France and Spain 
that were dependent on St Ruf, and their sculpture, but do not discuss their parochial churches. See 
U. Vones-Liebenstein, Saint-Ruf und Spanien: studien zur Verbreitung und zum Wirken der 
Regularkoniker von Saint-Ruf in Avignon auf der iberiscben Halbinsel (11. und 12. jahrhundert), 
(Turnhout, 1996), pp. 17-19, 235-256, maps; P. A. Patton, Pictorial Narrative in the Romanesque 
Cloister , (New York, 2004), 20, 26, 68-69. Nicholas Breakspear was abbot of St Ruf by 1148, and 
remained so until becoming pope in 1154. 

53 Wood, ‘Melbourne’, p. 147. 

54 VCH North Riding ; II, pp. 393, 399; John Burton, Monasticon Eboracense and the Ecclesiastical 
History of Yorkshire (York, 1758), p. 306. See also W. Dugdale, Monasticon Anglicanum (London, 
1846) vol. 6, pp. 90, 92, charter II. 

55 The amount of pre-Conquest memorial sculpture might suggest that Lythe had been an 
important church at an earlier period. See J. T. Lang, Northern Yorkshire , CASSS VI. (Oxford, 
2002 ). 


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‘a pension' from Lythe and a duty to attend the chapter in York. 56 Nostell Priory had a cell at 
Breedon-on-the-Hill, a place convenient for Melbourne, and the priory is geographically 
central to the sites that have been mentioned for their Augustinian sculpture. Perhaps, then, 
Nostell was the base for the designer, or a small number of designers working in the same 
way. 

The churches at Kirk Levington, Easington and Liverton each have a bird on one angle, 
and a man with foliage or stars on another. The teaching of the Austin canons locally, which 
these examples preserve for us, advocates perseverance on earth to gain the new life in 
heaven: the work at Liverton is an extended statement of that basic message which would 
seem to be inspired largely by two sermons of St. Augustine. Sermon 22 includes all the 
topics suggested above for the capitals of the chancel arch. 57 In it, Adam and Eve, ‘the 
parents who begot us unto death’, are contrasted with Christ and the Church (or, later, 
‘father God and mother Church’), who are ‘the parents who have begotten us unto life’. 
Augustine’s hearers were urged to repent, they were told not to expect mercy when the end 
comes if they had made no effort to correct their lives. This sequence equates to the content 
of the carving on the right side of the arch: Christ is represented by the proxy Gabriel, 
mother Church by the huntsman in the allegory of the boar-hunt, and their offspring, the 
man reborn, by the ‘green man’ between them. The sermon continues with a positive 
message for persevering Christians: if they are obedient and faithful to their spiritual 
parents, they will not die as do the children of Eve but will receive their true inheritance, 
eternal life. 58 This sequel is expressed in the content of the left side of the arch. A second 
text, Sermon 151, fills out two of these points, the perseverance necessary for the Christian, 
and the reward for it. 59 This use of this sermon explains the rare depiction of aprons, of the 
practical garment rather than the usual decorative, even distracting, foliage. Augustine 
reserves reference to fig-leaves for a discussion in another sermon of the calling of the 
disciple Nathanael (John 1:48), but in discussing the Fall in Sermon 151 his emphasis is on 
aprons as a sign of shame and a token of self-denial. The sermon encourages the hearers to 
resist temptations of all kinds, the ones they were born with and those acquired by habit. 
Using the metaphorical imageiy of numerous Pauline texts, Augustine emphasises that the 
life of the just on earth is a warfare against temptation, but that one day there will be 
victory. Then perishable mankind will ‘put on immortality’ and find peace. 60 This 
sermon serves to corroborate the nature of the creatures on the left side of the arch. It is 
relevant to note that the Pauline idea of the resurrection body was different from 
Augustine’s, and it is the Pauline version which is depicted here. St Paul said that man could 
not comprehend in what form the afterlife would be lived, but that man’s earthly body 
would be changed (Philipp. 3:21) and that the resurrection body would be a spiritual one 

56 Janet Burton, Monastic Order in Yorkshire 1069-1215, p. 77n. 

57 Augustine, sermon 22.9, 10, on Psalm 68. See The Works of Saint Augustine, Sermons , III/2, trans. 
E. Hill, (New York, 1990), pp. 46-50. 

58 ‘Father God and mother Church’ are mentioned in one version of the story of the Perdix (par- 
tridge), which is the bird prominent on the doorway and font in the Augustinian scheme at Kirkburn 
church. See Wood, ‘Kirkburn Church’, pp. 31-2, 50-1. Augustine also uses the allegory in sermon 216, 
chs. 7, 8, see Sermons , trans. Hill, III/6, p. 171. 

59 Augustine, sermon 151, on Romans 7:15-25. See Saint Augustine, Sermons , III/5, trans. E. Hill, 
(New York, 1990), pp. 40-47. 

60 Sermon 151, chs. 2, 7 and 8 mention warfare and victory; ch. 5, the aprons. 


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Fig. 23 St Mary’s, Whitby: man and foliage spirals 


( 1 Cor. 15:35-58): Augustine expected a body of human appearance but spiritual capacities, 
one like Christ’s resurrection body, a perfect version of an earthly body. Sometimes artists, 
or designers, chose one form (an invented one, as here) and sometimes the other, the 
perfected body, as on the tympanum at Autun, for example. 

The bird on the angle, interpreted as a crane, has been described above as a motif linked 
to the ministry of the Augustinians, at least in its use as seen in the north of England: the 
associated motifs of a man with stars or with foliage are so much more widespread in 
occurrence that they must have been common to all ‘schools of design’ (if such a concept 
maybe postulated). The popularity of the motifs is understandable since they represent the 
resurrection of mankind. Both versions of the idea are used together at St Mary’s, Whitby, 
the church on the headland next to the Abbey. This is a basically twelfth-century building 
comprising an aisless nave and a square-ended chancel. The chancel arch capitals have a 
man with foliage, that is, with the unfurling spirals of angle volutes coming from his mouth 
and, opposite that, a man’s head between two stars (Figs. 23, 24). The carving is basic, 


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Fig. 24 St Mary’s, Whitby: man and stars 


shallow and unsophisticated." 1 There is no bird on the angle of any capital at Whitby, and the 
motif is not to be expected since the church belonged to the Benedictine Abbey from 1096-7. 
The capitals with the men’s heads are the only figurative carving that survives from the early 
twelfth-century church. The chancel arch and the south doorway to the nave both have 
voluted capitals and an outer order of octagonal columns, Whitby parish church thus has 
architectural detail similar to the church at Kirk Levington, some 30 miles away, at the far 
extreme of the range of buildings that have been brought into the present survey (Figs. 18, 
19). In the early post-Conquest period, it would seem that mason-builders were generally 
expected to carve the small amount of individual ornament that was required. It is 
reasonable that builders should remained localised, handling stone whose sources and 
qualities they knew well and having a fairly steady supply of work. On the other hand, as will 
be illustrated below, skilled migrant sculptors soon arrived, along with travelling designers, 
effecting the long-range transfer of motifs. 

Distant comparisons 

Any search for the origins of sculptors or models is always subject to the loss of key 
monuments, and chance survival. One random comparison for Liverton work that comes to 
mind is that of the mask emitting foliage (Fig. 1 1 ) with a similar mask on a capital at Stillingfleet, 

61 The mouth of the man in Fig. 23 has been damaged, spoiling what was once a short, inconspicuous 
incised line, a little of which remains on the left. 


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137 



Fig. 25 Stillingfleet: capitals of south doorway 

nine miles south of York (Fig. 25). Here also one eye and ear are up, the other down, and just 
as striking is the similar broad, flat face and the wide lip that seems to extend from ear to ear. 
The Stillingfleet mask is pitted with small random holes, like the serpent in the Fall scene 
(Fig. 5). Next to the mask at Stillingfleet is a ‘green man’ with an elongated head, long trails 
and doubled leaves having separate tight spirals resembling those at Liverton (Fig. 8), and on 
another capital on the same side of the doorway are two entwined serpents, a motif used on 
a capital of the doorway at Kirk Levington but in a much simpler form. These similarities are 
tantalising, for while it might be reasonable to suppose one man worked at both sites, little 
else at Stillingfleet suggests any connection with Liverton - rather the opposite. There is, for 
example, a pair of masks on a voussoir which emit a shared pair of leaves, but here the stems 
are bound together with bands or clasps and seem static - not like those at Liverton, twining, 
lively, and when this motif appears elsewhere in Yorkshire it is in the form that is used at 
Stillingfleet. The detail of the leaves at Liverton are similarly distinct from the forms of 
leaves used at several other Yorkshire churches. For example, at Liverton (Fig. 8), the spiral 
at the base of the leaf appears separate from the flutings of the leaf, almost as if it were an 
incipient shoot, and both the upper and lower edges of the leaf have cusped margins more or 
less in parallel. But at Riccall, (Fig. 26), three miles from Stillingfleet, the tip of the leaf curves 
back a little and it is the last fluting near the stalk that makes the spiral; the upper margin is 
cusped but a lower margin runs directly from stalk to tip. 62 


62 If comparable mouldings and other architectural forms are sought, this will tend to trace work- 
shops rather than a designer. Bubwith church in the East Riding shares the hollow mouldings of the 
Easington arch, and has less prominent domes; Bubwith also has a capital with a woven pattern, 
probably from the main doorway. Brayton, in the West Riding, again has domes in a hollow 
moulding on its chancel arch; there are also a pair of lions who turn to look at the altar and long- 
headed men with foliage trails. 





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Fig. 26 Riccall: leaves on capital of south doorway 

More impressive, because more extensive and more distant, are similarities with sculp- 
ture at St. Mary’s parish church in Tutbury (Staffs), about 12 miles from Melbourne. It is a 
building formed out of the nave of the church of a Benedictine Priory. Tutbuiy, like Liverton, 
is one of seven sites in England with a boar-hunt, though the example here is in a poor state 
and about half the scene is already lost. 63 Alongside the lintel having the remains of the hunt 
is a capital with a woven pattern and another with figures in long robes holding rectangular 
books (Fig. 27). These pieces are all in the rebuilt south doorway to the nave, but on the 
magnificent and highly decorated west front there are several more echoes of the sculpture 
at Liverton. 64 The arch of the second order in the doorway is carved in alabaster, and here in 
finely-preserved detail are lions (Fig. 28) resembling those in Figures 11 and 12. Many 
creatures in this order have very narrow straight wings, as at Liverton (Fig. 13). Also in the 
alabaster are leaf-like tongues with prominent tight spirals (Fig. 28, compare Figs. 8, 11), and 
beakheads whose beaks are pitted with small holes. In the third order at Tutbury are pairs of 
masks emitting leaves, and although the stems are longer and make a more complex twist 
than those on the chancel arch, they are twined among themselves without binding and they 
end in the doubled leaf (Fig. 29, compare Fig. 16). At the outer edge of this order is a row of 
animals resembling the bird-lion at Liverton (Fig. 29, compare Fig. 13). Masks used in the 
third order and alongside the west window are somewhat like those at Liverton in the outer 
arch (Figs. 16, 29), and not like the single corbel from Guisborough. The foliage pattern used 
on the imposts at Liverton occurs at Tutbury. 


63 L. Musset, Angleterre Romane, 2 (Saint-Leger,1974), pi. 86. 

64 Musset, Angleterre Romane , 2, pi. 85. The facade is renewed in the upper parts. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


139 



Fig. 27 Tutbury (Staffs): capitals of rebuilt south doorway 


At Tutbury, one of the few standard subjects in the capitals of the west doorway is St. 
Margaret holding up a cross and coming out of the dragon. This subject is carved on the font 
from Cottam, East Riding, but not often found in England. Another capital has a slightly 
distorted beakhead being beaten down by a flying angel who holds a leaf in one hand and a 
shield in the other. This is a minor St Michael and the Dragon, rather as a beakhead or mask 



Fig. 28 Tutbury: second order of west doorway 



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Fig. 29 Tutbury: third order of west doorway 


emitting foliage is a lesser Harrowing of Hell. There are lions on capitals of the third and 
fourth orders on the right side, these have leafy tails made of the doubled leaf as seen in 
Figures 6 and 8. Most of the other subjects in the capitals are individual compositions of 
creatures and foliage like the one with ‘St. MichaeF, or they have figures and creatures now 
so eroded that their content is uncertain. Nevertheless, the majority of them can be 
understood as illustrating evil spirits overcome and new life springing from death. At least 
one capital is cautionary - on the extreme right there is a man held in the claws of two 
demons. In contrast, just above the foliage pattern on the impost nearby is a musician, 
perhaps intended as an inhabitant of heaven. A similar musician is on a corbel at Adel. 

There are not just physical resemblances in the handling and in the motifs used, but 
something more, there is a common layout of the teaching at Tutbury and Liverton. The 
arches of Tutbury’s west front are animated with carving, but these are all repeats, it is a 
chorus of resurrection bodies. As at Liverton, the individual, varied, subjects are 
concentrated in the capitals. 65 Outside the regular architectural sculpture of Tutbury’s west 
facade and below the level of the capitals are several slabs, one at least of which shows a large 
boar facing the doorway, this may be echoed by the carving in Yorkshire which extends onto 
the wings of capitals. With so many parallels, it may be safe to say that at least the 
experienced sculptor capable of carving the fluent lions on the capital in the chancel worked 
at Liverton, and possibly a second sculptor also worked at both sites. The layout of the 
patterns and individual subjects may have been part of workshop practice, but would 

65 Contrast the ‘Yorkshire School’ doorways, with their typically figurative voussoirs, patterned 
capitals and plain imposts, and having parallels in south-west France. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


141 



involve a designer too. 

At Liverton, a secular church, the 
capitals include a narrative about 
salvation, but at a monastic church 
like Tutbury Priory this lesson 
would presumably have been too 
elementary. The motifs that take 
their place on the capitals of the 
west front - the several fights of the 
angel or lions with beakheads and 
masks - could represent the monks’ 
spiritual battles, as would be proper 
for a doorway used by the monas- 
tic community. The church was 
also used by the parishioners, so 
the south doorway, with the boar 
hunt, was perhaps the layman’s 
entrance. 66 Although the Liverton 
sculpture is far less extensive than 
the Tutbury west front, it is not a 
reduction or reproduction of 

Tutbury: the Liverton programme 

Fig. 30 San Ambrogio, Milan: bird on a capital in the is the more complex. The question 
nave 

as to which is earlier is probably 
not possible to resolve without knowing what was made for Guisborough Priory itself, or 
perhaps for Lythe: and these are things that we are unlikely ever to know. 

Further comparisons, though of a general kind, can be made with eleventh- and twelfth- 
century work in Italy. The Augustinian movement began in Italy under Gregory VII and 
Peter Damian, and had its first foundations there, so that it need not surprise us if motifs 
seen in north Italy seem to have reached Yorkshire. 67 Transference from Germany, of visual 
ideas ranging from small details to architectural plans, have been noted in Augustinian 
schemes at Kirkburn and Melbourne, while the Bridlington tomb-slab was shipped from 
Flanders, and Ottonian manuscripts were cited above as a source for the posture imposed 
on the bird at Liverton. Figures 30 and 31 illustrate eleventh- or twelfth-century sculpture 
from Milan in order to indicate north Italy generally as the area supplying several more of 
the ideas at Liverton and Tutbury. There is a comparable disposition of sculpture on the 
architecture. The carving in the atrium or entrance courtyard of San Ambrogio includes a 
series of capitals with animals and foliage; there are figures as well on other capitals at the 


66 The monks’ living quarters were to the north of the nave. The west facade faces onto a steep hill 
on which was the patron’s castle; in the bailey there was a freestanding chapel, ‘a plain building of 
nave and narrower chancel. The W portal had one order of colonettes’, N. Pevsner, Staffordshire , 
(Harmondsworth, 1974), p. 288. 

07 Dickinson, Origins , pp. 40-1. 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


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Fig. 31 San Ambrogio, Milan: quadruped on a capital in the atrium 


entrance to the church and in the nave. 08 Arches at the east end of the atrium have only 
patterns, with imposts that are heavily patterned; large slabs which are not structural units 
have been let into the walls and bear sculpture. 69 But the most striking resemblance to 
Liverton is with the large bird that appears on the angle of several capitals in the nave at San 
Ambrogio (Fig. 30, compare Fig. 12). As at Melbourne (Fig. 14, bottom right), none of the 
birds is holding a stone, even as an attribute, but the interior of the church was commonly 
conceived as ‘heaven’. 70 A bird-headed quadruped with narrow wings occurs in the atrium 
(Fig. 31 ). 71 Less like work in England, but still suggestive, are the sharply-pleated leaves, with 
their doubling and matched serrations like some of the leaves at Tutbury: the strong spirals 
however do not occur in Milan. In Pavia, leaves are very like the general type seen in 
Yorkshire (Fig. 26), but they are arranged with twisted rather than bound stems. The leaf 
design used on imposts at Liverton and Tutbury is a common one based on classical 
originals. Altogether, there is a strong connection with Italian forms. 

San Ambrogio was the first of five churches founded around Milan in the late fourth- 
century by Ambrose, the bishop whose preaching so impressed Augustine. It was 
consecrated in the year of Augustine’s conversion, so the site would have been of interest to 
the canons. The story of the crane keeping watch and holding up a stone was known to the 
classical world, for example, it is found in Pliny and carved on a memorial stone found near 


68 H. Decker, Romanesque Art in Italy (London, 1958), pi. 1. Some of the sculpture is reused, but it 
is mostly of 11th- and 12th- century date. 

69 Compare San Michele, Pavia, illus. in Decker, Romanesque Art in Italy, pi. 25. San Michele has the 
bird on the angle, also a version of the ‘green man’ which is like that used at Melbourne. 

70 The immediate interest is in the physical similarity of the two carvings, but the motif seems to have 
originated in Persian textiles, see E. Kitzinger, ‘The Horse and Lion Tapestry at Dumbarton Oaks’ 
in Studies in Late Antique, Byzantine and Medieval Western Art , 1 , (London, 2002), figs. 90-102, 
123; basket-weave or woven patterns accompany some of these examples. 

71 The example has wattles, like a creature on the font from Cottam. Another wattled creature has 
been noted on the arcade of the ‘baptistery’ in the cathedral museum at Cividale. The single fish on 
the impost at Easington, fig. 21, is unusual in England but may be paralleled on doorjambs at the 
cathedral of Assisi where it is also accompanied by star patterns (the rosettes) and other symbols of 
heaven. 


THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON 


143 


Hadrian’s Wall , 72 while in the Hexaemeron of St Ambrose there is a long passage on the 
crane as a model for communal life . 73 The usual watchfulness is recounted, but this is only 
one instance of the cranes’ willing service of one another. They also take turns and change 
leader when flying as a flock. Theirs was a beautiful way of life, Ambrose says, with work and 
honour shared, and it was the kind of life mankind had led until ambition and the lust for 
power destroyed it. As has been pointed out, the Aberdeen bestiary commends similar 
virtues among the ‘fratres’, the Augustinians. 7 ' No doubt the canons knew the Hexaemeron 
and, as a reforming order, would have been keen to emulate a primitive common life recom- 
mended by St Ambrose. 

It would be fascinating to know exactly how all this came together to build the chancel 
arch at Liverton, and it is still a puzzle as to what allowed this simple church to enjoy such 
relatively lavish provision compared to its neighbours. One might speculate that the grant of 
access to a local source of ironstone was reciprocated by the gift of sculpture . 75 The pastoral 
work in which the sculpture no doubt involved the canons seems to have borne fruit in one 
sense at least, for both Liverton and Easington churches were given to Guisborough priory 
later in the twelfth century. 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 

I am grateful for help received and interest reciprocated at all the churches visited, and particu- 
larly to Mr Cockburn and Mr Stevenson at Liverton. I would like to thank Michael Tisdall for 
sending me the article mentioning the crane on the Roman memorial from Chesterholm, and for an 
anonymous translator in the Minster Library, York, who worked his/her way through the whole 
chapter of Ambrosius on the Crane to enlighten this barbarian. Photographs are by the author 
unless specified, but the print used for Figure 30, the bird at San Ambrogio, was made by John 
McElheran from a flash photograph having very little tonal differentiation; he provided other 
improved prints also. A few weeks later, John died suddenly on holiday. The author takes this 
opportunity to acknowledge his important contribution to this, and other, papers. 


72 Pliny, Historia Naturalis, X.xxiii; J. Kewley, ‘Three Altars from Chesterholm’, Archaeol. Aeliana , 
5th series, 1, p. 125-127. 

73 Ambrose, Hexaemeron , V.xv (Migne, Pat. Lat. xiv, col. 227). 

74 See notes 26 and 50. 

75 Iron-working by Guisborough priory in Glaisdale is discussed in B. Waites, Monasteries and 
Landscape in North East Yorkshire: the medieval colonisation of the North York Moors (Oakham, 
1997), pp. 36-7. 





Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


14 5 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE 
NORTH RIDING OF YORKSHIRE 

^Claire Cross 


The suppression of m on as ticism in the North Riding of Yorkshire seems to have taken the 
local inhabitants entirely by surprise. Drawing chiefly upon the evidence from wills, this 
article investigates the impact of North Riding religious houses upon regional society in the 
earlier part of the reign of Henry VIII, considers the process of the dissolution and traces 
the subsequent careers of some of the former monks, friars and nuns. 

Described at the time as ‘the greatest shire of... late religious houses within this realm’, 
with well over a thousand men and women in religious orders in the 1530s, Yorkshire 
contained about a ninth of all the monks, canons, friars and nuns in the whole of England. 
Within the county the North Riding, with a total of 28 abbeys, priories, nunneries and 
friaries, compared with 23 for the West Riding and 18 for the East Riding, possessed the 
greatest number of monastic communities. All the houses in the North Riding, as in the rest 
of Yorkshire, dated from after the Norman Conquest, most originating in the late eleventh 
or twelfth centuries with the friars making their appearance a century later. This pattern of 
monasticism survived virtually unchanged until the reign of Henry VIII. 1 

Whitby abbey, founded circa 1078, was the only house in the North Riding belonging to 
the Benedictine order, the dominant form of monasticism in Western Christendom until 
about 1100. The first half of the twelfth century saw the creation of three houses of 
Augustinian canons at Guisborough, Newburgh and Marton. Not strictly monks, these 
canons regular, although living under a rule, served parish churches appropriated to their 
priories. The Cistercians, a much more severe order than the Benedictines, reached the area 
in 1132, settling at Rievaulx, Byland and Jervaulx in quick succession. Between 1150 and 
1200 Grandimontine monks, a contemplative order devoted to extreme poverty and severity, 
established a very small prioiy at Grosmont, Gilbertine canons, who followed the Augustinian 
rule, a house at Malton, and Premonstratensian canons, pledged to a stricter observance 
than the canons regular, three priories at Easby, Coverham and Egglestone. The nine North 
Riding nunneries, two Benedictine convents at Arden and Marrick, six Cistercian convents 
at Handale, Keldholme, Wykeham, Rosedale, Basedale and Ellerton, and a single Augustinian 
convent at Moxby, were all also in existence before 1200. Then two centuries later the 
Carthusians, an eremitical order which met together solely for part of the divine office, set 
up their priory at Mount Grace in 1398. 2 


1 G. W. O. Woodward, The Exemption from Suppression of Certain Yorkshire Priories’, English 
Historical Review, LXXVI (1961), 386, quoting The National Archives (hereafter TNA) E 135/125 
f. 184; C. Cross and N. Vickers, eds., Monks, Friars and Nuns in Sixteenth Century Yorkshire , 
Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Record Series CL (1995). The spelling of all quotations has been 
modernised. 

2 J. E. Burton, The Monastic Order in Yorkshire 1069-1215 (Cambridge, 1999), pp. xvii-xix. 


146 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


With their commitment to absolute poverty and active involvement in the world the friars 
were the religious innovators of the thirteenth century. The Franciscans, the first to penetrate 
the Riding, established a convent in Scarborough in 1239 and another in Richmond in 
1258. The Dominicans settled in Scarborough and Yarm in 1252 and 1266 respectively, 
while the Carmelites had priories in Scarborough by 1319 and in Northallerton by 1356. 
The Austin friars never succeeded in colonising the area. 3 

With the exception of the friars, who depended upon alms giving and technically owned 
no property at all , some of the monasteries very rapidly became major landowners in the 
region. On the Valor Ecclesiasticus assessments of 1535, Guisborough priory with a clear 
annual income well over £600 was by some way the wealthiest house in the North Riding, 
and the fourth richest in the entire county behind only St Mary’s abbey, York, Fountains 
abbey and Selby abbey. Whitby abbey had an annual revenue of almost £450, Newburgh 
priory of about £367 and Mount Grace priory of around £323. Below this, but still affluent, 
came the three Cistercian houses of Rievaulx abbey with over £287, Byland abbey with 
£238 and Jervaulx with £234 per annum. Malton Gilbertine priory had an income hovering 
around the £200 a year mark. With £ 151 a year Marton priory was by some way the least well 
endowed Augustinian house. Of the three Premonstratensian houses, Coverham abbey with 
£160 and Easby abbey with £111, enjoyed a similar standard of living to Marton, but 
Egglestone must always have struggled with revenues of no more than £36. Grosmont 
Grandimontine priory with a derisoiy £ 1 2 a year brought up the rear: such was its poverty 
that the laity in the early sixteenth century commonly referred to its canons as friars. 4 

Most of the nine North Riding nunneries were also very poor. The least indigent, Marrick, 
possessed an income of almost £50 and Rosedale of nearly £38, but Keldholme, Moxby, 
Wykeham and Basedale could count on revenues of between only £20 and £30, while the 
three most needy priories, Ellerton, Handale and Arden, somehow survived on receipts of 
between £ 12 and £ 15 a year. (For comparison, Swine in the East Riding, the richest nunnery 
in the county apart from the double house of Watton, had an annual income of over £80. ) 5 

Many years ago Dom David Knowles made the point that religious houses tended to 
attract their monks from their immediate hinterland, and this certainly seems to have been 
the case for the North Riding. On entering the Cistercian order a novice usually changed his 
surname from his family name to that of his birth place. Quite exceptionally a Rievaulx 
document of 1538, which lists both the patronymic and toponymic of almost every member 
of the community -Thomas Jackson alias Richmond, Richard Jenkinson a//ayRipon, William 
Stapleton alias Bedale, and so on - makes it possible to analyse the geographical origins of the 
monks with some precision. All without exception seem to have come from the North 
Riding. Some had previously lived less than five miles from the abbey in Gilling, Ampleforth, 
Yearsley (a township of Coxwold) and Helmsley. Others had migrated to Rievaulx from 
Thirsk, Northallerton, Pickering, Farlington and Broughton in Appleton le Street no more 
than ten to fifteen miles away, yet others a little further from Yarm, Ripon, Bedale, Guisborough 

3 - The Victoria History of the County of Yorkshire, III, ed. W. Page (London, 1913), pp. 270, 273-4, 
274-6, 277-9, 279-80, 281-2. 

4 Burton, Monastic Order in Yorkshire , pp. xvii-xix; Borthwick Institute, University of York (hereafter 
BI) Prob. Reg. 9 ff. 251 r-v, 376r. 

5 - Burton, Monastic Order in Yorkshire , pp. xvii-xix. 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE NORTH RIDING 


147 


and Stainton. The most distant townships from which Rievaulx had drawn its novices, 
Scarborough, Whitby, Richmond and Easby, still lay within a twenty-five mile radius of the 
abbey. Other houses would seem to have attracted their members from similarly quite narrowly 
defined localities. 6 

The social status of the families which provided these recruits is less easy to determine. 
From the evidence of wills made in the last two decades before the dissolution most North 
Riding monks appear to have sprung from yeoman or reasonably prosperous bourgeois 
rather than from noble stock. In his will of 1527, for example, John Lawton, a townsman of 
Thirsk, mentioned his son, Robert, then a monk of Byland. The inhabitants of Malton 
appear to have had particularly strong ties with their local Gilbertine house: Robert Walker 
of Old Malton, Laurence Richardson, draper, Agnes Kellet, widow, and William Marshall of 
New Malton all had sons or brothers who had joined the priory. 7 

Some of the nuns, on the other hand, could claim gentle and occasionally noble birth. In 
1539 the prioress of Wykeham, Elizabeth Nandyke, herself the daughter of a local gentry 
family, numbered Elizabeth Percy, a relation of Katherine, countess of Northumberland, 
among her nuns, while one of her kinswomen, Isabel Nandyke, and her goddaughter, 
Katherine Gayle, had also entered the convent. Marrick priory had similarly recruited from 
gentry families with the prioress, Christabel Cowper, aunt to Christopher Thormanby of 
Thormanby, gentleman, Marjory Conyers, the daughter of Christopher Conyers and sister 
of Sir Christopher Conyers, knight, of Sockburn in county Durham, Elizabeth Singleton, 
probably a Singleton of Melsonby, and Elizabeth Robinson the daughter of Thomas Robinson 
and his wife Elizabeth, tenants of the priory. Two of the nuns at Handale, Anne Benson and 
Isabel Norman, were both daughters of prosperous local families, and the prioress, Anne 
Lutton, almost certainly derived from the Yorkshire gentry family of the same name. Sometime 
before the dissolution Agnes Aislaby, daughter of Richard Aislaby of Whitwell, gentleman, 
had joined the equally impecunious house of Ellerton on Swale. 8 

Families understandably felt particularly close to the communities which housed their 
offspring, and did not hesitate on occasions to trade upon these connections. In 1522 
William Christalowe of Coxwold appointed his brother Marmaduke, a monk of Byland, one 
of the supervisors of his will and left him his best horse and a rosary with a tache in addition 
to making a general bequest of 3 s. 4d. to the abbot and convent. John Leyng of Helmsley 
requested his son, Dan Richard, a monk of Rievaulx, to execute the same office, while John 
Crawe of Old Malton turned to his brother, Dan William, for a similar favour. 9 

Other North Riding families cultivated patronage links with particular houses. When he 
gave the prioress and convent lOs. to pray for his soul in 1527 Sir Ninian Markenfeld of 
Ripon described himself as the ‘founder’ of Arden, established nearly four centuries earlier 
by a minor landholder, Peter de Hoton. Sir Thomas Strangeways of Osmotherley and James 

6 - D. M. Knowles, The Religious Orders in England , III (Cambridge, 1955), p. 70; Letters and 
Papers of Henry VIII, XIV, pt. I, no. 185 (hereafter L P Hen. VIII)-, TNA, E 315/245 f. 32v. 

7 BI, Prob. Reg. 9 ff. 375v, 389v, 400r, 402v. 

H TNA, LR 6/121/2 m. 51; BI, Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I ff. 363v, 364v; Prob. Reg. 11, pt. II ff. 559v-560r, 
647 r; Prob. Reg. 13, pt. II f. 702v; Prob. Reg. 15, pt. I f. 68r-v; Testamenta Eboracensia, vol. VI, ed. 
J. W. Clay Surtees Society CVI (1902), p. 256; J. H. Tillotson, Marrick Priory: A Nunnery in Late 
Medieval Yorkshire, Borthwick Paper 75 (York, 1989), p. 6 and n. 39. 

9 BI, Prob. Reg. 9 f. 250v; Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I ff. 16v, 69r. 


148 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Strangeways, esquire, chose to be buried in Mount Grace priory in 1522 and 1532 
respectively. William Tocottes, gentleman, requested a similar privilege from Guisborough 
priory in 1526. In 1525 Alice Chawfer, widow, made provision for her burial in Byland 
abbey, where her husband William Chawfer of Kilburn had been interred four years 
previously. 10 

Other affluent testators paid North Riding monasteries to offer prayers for their souls. In 
1521, in addition to arranging for special commemorative services to take place on the 
anniversary of his death in Whalley, St Mary’s, York, Fountains, Sawley and Bolton, Ambrose 
Pudsey, gentleman, of Bolton in Bowland, gave Mount Grace £5 for five trentals and five 
obits. John Chapman, public notary of York, in 1528 commissioned a thousand masses to be 
performed for his soul in the charterhouses of Mount Grace, Hull, Beauvale and Coventry 
and the priories of Guisborough and Hexham. Three years earlier Ellen Harman of Holy 
Trinity parish in Hull donated a piece of plate to Guisborough priory to pray in perpetuity 
for her father and mother, Laurence and Agnes Sowerby. 11 

Other lay people associated themselves with religious houses in less expensive ways. 
William Cure, alderman of York, in 1522 left the prioress and convent of Moxby 40s. to 
enter his name and that of his wife in their mortilege book (a catalogue of the dead for whom 
the nuns had bound themselves to pray). In 1525 Thomas Marcer of Kirkby Moorside 
bestowed 6s. 8 d. upon the prioress of Keldholme to be assoiled (absolved) and admitted as 
a brother in the chapter house. In 1526 Alan Story, butcher of Coxwold, gave the abbot and 
convent of Byland 20s. for the community’s prayers and to be made a brother and his wife a 
sister of the chapter. William Peckett, husbandman of Marton, bequeathed 6s. 8 d. ‘to be a 
brother of the chapter of the house of Marton’ in 1529. In 1533 Henry Marton of Gargrave 
conferred 13s. 4 d. upon Mount Grace ‘to be prayed for, because I am brother of the said 
house.’ 12 

Even more of the laity sought the services of the friars. In 1520 Robert Dickonson, merchant 
of York and Scarborough, asked that his body might be interred by the altar where the priest 
sang the gospel on solemn days in the choir of the White Friars’ church in Scarborough. 
Although the vast majority of testators preferred to be buried in their parish church, many 
wished the friars to take part in their funerals. For a payment of 20 d. per priory William 
Watson, shipwright and burgess of Scarborough, requested the Dominicans, Franciscans 
and Carmelites ‘to go before me to the church and to sing mass and dirige’. Thomas Lawson 
of Reighton set aside 5 s. for the friars of Scarborough to say ‘the blessed and holy trental of 
St Gregory within every one of their houses’ immediately after his death. Thomas Wray of 
Bedaie commissioned prayers for his soul from the Franciscans at Richmond, the Carmelites 
at Northallerton, the Dominicans at Yarm and the Austins at York. In 1536 Edmund Kettlewell 
of Ormesby contracted for one trental of masses from the Yarm friars for his soul and his 
wife’s and his children’s souls, a second trental from the Northallerton friars for the souls of 
his mother and father, Matthew and Alice Kettlewell, and a third trental from the York 

10 BI, Prob. Reg. 9 ff. 134v, 316v, 343v-344r, 407r-408r, 345r; Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I 203v-204r; J. E. 
Burton, The Yorkshire Nunneries in the Twelfth and Thirteenth Centuries , Borthwick Paper 56 
(York, 1979), pp. 19, 42. 

11 BI, Prob. Reg. 9 ff. 214v-215r, 354v,; Prob. Reg. 10 f. 52v-56r. 

12 - BI, Prob. Reg. 9 ff. 264r, 321 v, 340r; Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I ff. 40v-41r, 60v. 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE NORTH RIDING 


149 


Austins for the souls of his brothers John, James, William and Richard and his sisters Elizabeth 
and Margaret. 13 

Business dealings between himself and the abbey seem to have lain behind the bequest of 
20s. of Thomas Pears of Bedale in 1534 and his plea ‘to my Lord of Coverham and his 
brethren for to give me plenary absolution of all my misreckonings, if any such have been 
betwixt them and me, and to do an obit with placebo and dirige after my departure in the 
health of my soul and all Christian souls’. Exactly as he might have approached a secular lord, 
in 1530 William Walker of Coxwold besought the abbot of Byland ‘to be good lord to my wife 
and to my children and to bear them in their right, if any would do them wrong’. Simon 
Vicars, alderman of York, in 1534 left the abbot of Jervaulx his best horse or mare for his 
mortuary, and the community his scarlet cloak with damask lining or £7 in cash, on condition 
that his elder son, Simon, should inherit his farm at East Witton and his younger son, 
Thomas, his farmhold at Hutton Hang. 14 

Several testators expected the heads of religious houses to undertake the wardship of 
their children. In 1520 John Symson of Helmsley entrusted his son Robert and his portion 
to Rievaulx abbey, and his son Richard and his portion to Byland abbey. John Spendley of 
Kirby Misperton in 1521 desired the abbot of Rievaulx to accept one of his sons ‘and to 
bring him up out of his part’. In 1520 Richard Dickson of Helmsley gave the prioress of 
Keldholme his daughter, Joan, and her inheritance of £10, while in 1524 William Bulmer, 
esquire, of Brotton near Guisborough, wished James, lord prior of Guisborough, to have the 
custody of the goods belonging to his daughters Eleanor and Anne until they married or 
their friends provided other succour for them for the term of their lives. 15 

In many respects these monasteries in the later middle ages were carrying out functions 
subsequently performed by banks, acting as executors, receiving deposits on trust, on 
occasions lending money. In 1526, for instance, in addition to leaving the abbot ofjervaulx 
a silver piece ‘which I had of him’, Robert Wardrop of Ripon made provision for the 
repayment of 20 marks he had borrowed from the house. All the evidence suggests that in 
both their spiritual and temporal aspects these communities were continuing to play an 
important part in secular society until the very end, and that the revolutionary political and 
religious changes of the early 1530s took northern clergy and laity completely by surprise. 16 

Having failed to persuade the pope to dissolve his marriage to Katherine of Aragon, Henry 
VIII forced the convocations of the clergy of the provinces of Canterbury and York to 
acknowledge his headship over the English church in 1531. In May 1533 the newly appointed 
archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, pronounced the king’s marriage null and void, 
freeing him at last to wed Anne Boleyn. The Act of Succession passed in the spring of 1534 
contained a clause that required all Englishmen to recognise the validity of this second 
marriage and, by implication, renounce their allegiance to Rome. The Treasons Act of the 
following autumn made questioning of the royal supremacy punishable by death. 17 

13, BI, Prob. Reg. 9 f. 94v, 162v, 388v; Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I ff. 208v-209r; Leeds District Archives 
(hereafter LDA) RD/PR/3 ff. 146v-147v. 

14 - LDA, RD/RP/3 ff. 129r-v; BI, Prob Reg. 9 f. 474v; Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I f. 118r. 

15 - BI, Prob. Reg. 9 ff. 145v, 201 r, 289v, 299v-300r. 

16 - BI, Prob. Reg. 9 f. 356v. 

17 G. W. O. Woodward, The Dissolution of the Monasteries (London, 1966), p. 50. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Apart from the London Carthusians, virtually all the regular and secular clergy throughout 
England swore the new oath of allegiance to the crown, though some clerics in the North 
Riding could barely conceal their dismay at this turn of events. A monk and a lay brother 
from Mount Grace fled to Scotland in the summer of 1535 to avoid taking the oath, and the 
prior and the rest of the community accepted the royal supremacy with the greatest reluctance, 
and only after a special consultation with Archbishop Lee. Monks in other communities 
entertained similar reservations over government policy. When Sir Francis Bigod on an 
official mission to enforce conformity arrived at Jervaulx injuly, George Lazenby, a Cistercian 
with contacts with Mount Grace, interrupted a sermon in the abbey church to assert the 
primacy of the pope. Given the chance to recant, Lazenby refused to withdraw his treasonable 
words, and his trial and condemnation quickly followed. He died for his faith at York on 6 
August 1535. 18 

These instances of resistance strengthened the crown’s resolve to bring the monasteries 
under the direct control of the state. In the autumn of 1534 Parliament had granted the king 
the first year’s revenues on a cleric’s appointment to a benefice together with a tenth of the 
income from the living thereafter. Throughout the spring and summer of 1535 royal 
commissioners toured the nation compiling surveys of every parish church, religious house 
and other ecclesiastical corporation to obtain the requisite up-to-date information to enforce 
the act. The resulting national inventory, known as the Valor Ecclesiasticus, revealed among 
much else the extent of the country in the hands of the religious. The government then 
resolved to confiscate monasteries with annual revenues of under £200 on the grounds that 
such houses did not possess the economic means to fulfil their religious obligations. To 
justify this somewhat specious argument in the late summer of 1535 Cromwell sent out 
officials to trawl for examples of scandalous behaviour in the smaller houses, and early in 
1536 they descended upon the North Riding. 19 

Only five years previously Marton, valued at just over £150 a year, had come to the 
archbishop’s attention for serious financial mismanagement. At a visitation the canons had 
accused their prior, George Davy, of squandering the house’s revenues upon his kin, and this 
had led to Davy’s resignation and replacement with Thomas Judson. The problem, however, 
had clearly not gone away, the commissioners used their knowledge of the previous 
irregularities to put pressure on the community, and on 9 February 1536, before Parliament 
had even passed the Act authorising the dissolution of the lesser monasteries, induced the 
prior and his canons to hand Marton over to the crown. 20 

Four other North Riding monasteries fell within the remit of the 1536 Act, the three 
Premonstratensian priories of Coverham, Easby and Egglestone, and the tiny Grandimontine 
priory of Grosmont. For the time being one house of each order was allowed to continue, so 
Grosmont survived together with Egglestone, the poorest of the Premonstratensian abbeys. 
Easby capitulated on 17 June and Coverham on 14 August 1536. 21 


,a L P Hen. VIII, VIII, nos. 963, 1011, 1025, 1038, 1069. 

19 - Woodward, Dissolution , pp. 59-60; Eighth ' Report of the Deputy Keeper of the Public Records 
(London, 1847), app. II, p. 30. 

20 BI, Mon. Misc. 9; Yorkshire Monasteries. Suppression Papers, ed. J. W. Clay, Yorkshire 
Archaeological Society, Record Series XLVIII (1912), pp. 135-7. 

21 - Clay, Suppression Papers, pp. 95-7, 99-102. 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE NORTH RIDING 


151 


The North Riding nunneries presented a major difficulty since none had an income 
remotely approaching £200 a year. At this stage the government simply dared not mount an 
indiscriminate attack on female monasticism, so compromised by closing just over half the 
priories, permitting their members to transfer to another community of the same order. 
Moxby surrendered on 4 August, Keldholme the following day, Rosedale on 17 August, 
Ellerton on 18 August and Arden on 25 August 1536. 22 

Little more than a month later the Pilgrimage of Grace broke out in Beverley, and very 
quickly spread across the whole of Yorkshire and beyond. Influenced by the Lincolnshire 
rebels, the East Riding insurgents at first seem largely to have been campaigning against 
rumoured increases in taxation, but as soon as Robert Aske assumed control the general 
welfare of the church received a much greater priority. Aske cared passionately about the 
preservation of monasticism, and under his leadership the commons restored the dispossessed 
religious to Easby, Coverham and Ellerton. The former prior of Marton and prioress of 
Arden began collecting their rents once more, and some members of their houses may also 
have returned. They had nothing to lose, and everything to gain by cooperating with the 
rebels. 23 

The rising placed the greater monasteries in an equivocal position. If they tried to withstand 
the Pilgrims, they would most probably retaliate by despoiling their houses; if they joined 
with them, and the government prevailed, they faced almost certain dissolution. When the 
rebels marched uponjervaulx in October 1536, in a desperate attempt to avoid taking sides, 
the abbot, Adam Sedbergh, fled to Witton Fell, but to no avail. The rebels brought him back 
to his abbey, and compelled him and two of his monks to accompany the host to Darlington. 24 

Earlier in the year the commissioners had deposed the prior of Guisborough, James 
Cockerill, on a charge of maladministration, replacing him with a supporter of Thomas 
Cromwell. They had similarly coerced the abbot of Rievaulx, Edward Kirkby, into resigning, 
and with great difficulty persuaded his monks to elect a successor. The former abbot of 
Fountains, William Thirsk, who had suffered a similar indignity, had chosen to spend his 
retirement at Jervaulx. All three now took advantage of the times to tiy to regain their 
offices. 25 

Although the Pilgrimage proper ended on the grant of the royal pardon in December 
1536, further fighting flared up in the East Riding early in 1537 during which James Cockerill 
publicly expressed his approval of Sir Francis Bigod’s tract condemning the royal supremacy, 
Adam Sedbergh sent meat and drink to the rebels from Jervaulx, and William Thirsk offered 
them 20 marks to restore him to Fountains, ‘saying he was unjustly put out by the visitors.’ 
Since the pardon only indemnified rebels against offences committed between October and 
December 1536 on the failure of this second rising the king could exact his revenge. The 

22 - TNA, SC 6/Hen. VIII/4641 m. 14v, 15r-v; SC 6/Hen. VIII/7476 m. 6r. 

2,1 S. M. Jack, The Last Days of the Smaller Monasteries \ Journal of Ecclesiastical History, XXI 
(1970), 122-3; and see M. L. Bush, The Pilgrimage of Grace: a study in the rebel armies of October 
7555(Manchester, 1996); M. L. Bush and D. Bowness, The Defeat of the Pilgrimage of Grace: a study 
of the post-pardon revolts of December 1536 to March 1537 and their effect (Hull, 1999); and R. W. 
Hoyle, The Pilgrimage of Grace and the Politics of the 1530s (Oxford, 2001). 

24, L P Hen. VIII , XII, pt. I, nos. 369, 1012. 

2 ’ L P Hen. VIII ’ VII, no. 724; X, nos. 131, 271; Yorkshire Star Chamber Proceedings, /, ed. W. 
Brown, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Record Series XLI (1909), pp. 48-51. 


152 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


abbot of Jervaulx and the former heads of Rievaulx, Fountains and Guisborough were tried 
for treason in London and all were found guilty. Kirkby escaped the imposition of the death 
penalty, but Sedbergh, Thirsk and Cockerill were executed on 25 May 1537. Extending the 
law of attainder to embrace not merely the abbot but his entire community, the judges made 
an unprecedented ruling that Jervaulx and all its possessions should revert to the crown. 26 

At one stage it seemed as if the government might gain a second North Riding monasteiy 
under the same procedure when just before Christmas 1537 the prior of Newburgh, Richard 
Metcalf, appeared before the council in the north charged with having spoken abominable 
words against the king and the duke of Norfolk the previous August. Cuthbert Tunstall, the 
president of the council, believed that Metcalf, for all his protestations of innocence, 
harboured ‘a great rooted malice against the king’, and had him imprisoned in Pontefract 
castle. Only Metcalf’s fortuitous death in the spring of 1538 before he could be brought to 
trial allowed Newburgh to continue unscathed. 2 ' 

During these perilous times most lay people wisely kept their opinions to themselves, 
though some, like the widowed Margaret Astie of Richmond, who recorded in her will of 26 
March 1537 how the dissolution of Easby had frustrated her intention of founding an obit 
in the abbey church, clearly resented the way in which recent developments had affected the 
manner in which they might provide for the welfare of their souls. Well aware of popular 
resentment, the crown moved more cautiously after the Pilgrimage of Grace, and made no 
further inroads upon the North Riding monasteries for over a year. Then instead of using an 
act of Parliament as it had done in 1536, the government devised a new strategy of ‘voluntary’ 
surrenders, and for the first time undertook to grant allowances not only to the head, as in 
the past, but to the entire monastic community. 28 

Byland and Rievaulx, the only two Cistercian abbeys left in the Riding, succumbed to the 
crown in the late autumn of 1538. Since the compensation available was proportionate to a 
house’s annual income, on surrendering Byland on 30 November, the abbot, John Alanb ridge, 
secured a handsome pension of £50, his twenty-four monks pensions of between £10 and 
£4 according to seniority. (As a means for comparison in the early sixteenth century £5 was 
considered to be the minimum wage for a parish priest.) 29 

Formalities completed at Byland, the officials proceeded to Rievaulx, which Roland 
Blyton and his community of twenty-three monks yielded to the king on 3 December, the 
abbot being granted a pension of 100 marks, members of the community pensions of 
between £6 135. 4 d. and £4. Once the Christmas festivities had ended, on 22 January 
1539 they moved on to accept the submission of Newburgh, awarding the prior, William 
Lenewood, and his seventeen canons a similar range of pensions. 30 

At the same time as the onslaught on the first of the great Yorkshire abbeys the axe was 
also falling on the friaries. Richard Ingworth, the suffragan bishop of Dover and a former 

26 - L P Hen. VIII, XII pt. I nos. 1012, 1035, 1087, 1285; A. G. Dickens, Lollards and Protestants in the 
Diocese of York (London, 1959), p. 93; A. E. Emden, Biographical Register of the University of 
Oxford, 1501-1540 (Oxford, 1974), p. 335; G. R. Elton, Star Chamber Stories, (London, 1958), pp. 
147-73; Woodward, Dissolution , pp. 98-100. 

2Z L PHen. VIII, XII, pt. II nos. 1181, 1231; XIII, pt. I nos. 107, 743. 

28 LDA, RD/PR/3 f. 194r-v. 

29 L PHen. VIII, XIV, pt. I no. 185. 

30 L PHen. VIII, XIV, pt. I, nos. 123, 185; TNA, E 315/245 ff. 32v, 50v; E 164/31 ff. 55-6. 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE NORTH RIDING 


153 


Dominican, dissolved the priory of the White friars at Northallerton on 20 December 1538 
and the Dominican friary at Yarm the next day, before suppressing the Richmond Franciscans 
on 19 January 1539, and then, after a three months delay, the Scarborough Franciscans, 
Carmelites and Dominicans on 9 and 10 May. Ingworth did not always bother to list the 
members of a house, since as mendicants they did not qualify for pensions, but in these three 
months he evicted a minimum of seventy friars in the North Riding alone. Almost as poor as 
the friars, the five Grandimontines surrendered Grosmont priory in August 1539. They 
received pensions of between £4 and £3 65. 8c/. 31 

By this date it must have become all too clear from which direction the wind was blowing. 
When he made his will on 2 January 1539, George Norman of Thirkleby took the precaution 
of providing that his daughter, Isabel, a nun of Handale, should have her due portion of his 
goods if her house went down. In a similar vein on 18 February Thomas Benson of Leverton 
bequeathed the residue of his estate to his wife and children including Dame Anne, also at 
the time a member of the Handale community. These religious had good cause to be grateful 
when the suppression of the remaining four North Riding nunneries began later in the year. 
Wykeham capitulated on the 21 August, Handale on 23 August, Basedale on 24 August and 
Marrick on 15 September. The poverty of the houses allowed the commissioners very little 
room for manoeuvre: while they awarded the four prioresses reasonably adequate pensions 
of between £6 135. 4 d. and £5, they could give their communities, which contained a total of 
41 nuns, only token annuities of between £2 6s. 8 d. and £ l. 32 

Fearing possible resistance, the government had made the strategic decision to leave the 
most influential monasteries until the end. In the event the last five houses surrendered 
without any opposition, Malton on 1 1 December, Whitby on 14 December, Mount Grace on 
18 December, Guisborough on 22 December and Egglestone on 5 January 1540. The prior 
of Malton obtained an annuity of £40, the abbot of Whitby an annuity of 100 marks 
(£66 1 3s. 4 d), the prior of Mount Grace an annuity of £60 and the prior of Guisborough an 
annuity of 250 marks (£ 166 135. 4c/.), with those for their communities fluctuating between 
£8 and £4. Only at Egglestone, where the abbot came away with a relatively modest pension 
of £13 65. 8 d. and most of the community with a mere 405., were the canons as meanly 
rewarded as the majority of the North Riding nuns. 33 

After the dissolution, cushioned by their generous and occasionally lavish pensions, most 
of the former North Riding abbots and priors lived out the remainder of their lives as 
country gentlemen. Henry Davell, the last abbot of Whitby, died at Hackness, previously part 
of the abbey’s possessions, in 1552. Roland Blyton, the former abbot of Rievaulx, similarly 
retired to one of the abbey’s properties at Welburn until his death in Mary’s reign. The 
former abbot of Byland, John Alanbridge, survived even longer until 1564, when he was 
residing in some state in William Calverley’s house in Calverley. 34 

11 L P Hen. VIII, XIV, pt. I nos. 482, 483; XV, p. 555; Deputy Keeper’s Eight Report, app. II, pp. 
33, 38, 50. 

32 - BI, Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I ff. 363v, 364v; L P Hen. VIII , XV, p. 547; TNA, E 315/234 ff. llOr- 
112v; Clay, Suppression Papers, p. 169; A Selection of Monastic Rentals and Dissolution Papers’ 
ed. J. S. Purvis, in Miscellanea III, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, Record Series LXXX 
(1931), pp. 77, 79-81. 

33 LP Hen. VIII, XIV, pt. II, nos. 683, 721; XV, pp. 552, 553, 555. 

34 BI, Chan. AB f. 37r; Prob. Reg. 17, pt. I ff. 310v-311r; L P Hen. VIII, XV, p. 557. 


154 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Some of the heads of houses less well rewarded went on to accumulate a number of 
lucrative benefices in the secular church. Within months of surrendering Marton in 1536 
the unpensioned Thomas Judson secured the rectories of Sheriff Hutton and Sutton on the 
Forest, both previously appropriated to his priory, before moving on to become vicar of 
Whenby and Barnaby Dun in plurality. Until he died early in Elizabeth’s reign Thomas 
Shepperd, the last abbot of Egglestone, supplemented his relatively small pension of 
£13 6s. 8 d. with the living of Thorpe Bassett to which he had been admitted in 1536. 
Having escaped the gallows in 1537, Edward Kirkby acquired first the vicarage of 
Newport in Essex, then the rectory of Kirby Misperton which he held in combination with 
St Nicholas Olave in London, throughout all this time until his death in 1551 continuing to 
draw the pension of £44 to which he was entitled as the ousted abbot of Rievaulx. 33 

A government supporter like the Augustinian canon, Robert Pursglove, took advantage of 
the times to amass even more glittering prizes. Imposed upon Guisborough as a replacement 
for James Cockerill early in 1536, three years later he received a substantial pension of 250 
marks (£166 135. 4 d.) on the suppression of his house. Having been appointed suffragan 
bishop of Hull while still prior, he subsequently acquired a prebend in York Minster worth 
£58 a year, the mastership of Jesus College, Rotherham, which brought in a further 
£ 13 6s. 8c/., the rectory of his home parish of Tideswell in Derbyshire, a second prebend in 
Southwell Minster and the archdeaconry of Nottingham. The restoration of Protestantism 
under Elizabeth, however, after the reconciliation of the nation to Rome in Mary’s reign, 
proved a bridge too far, and Pursglove refused the oath of supremacy in 1559. Retiring to 
Tideswell, ‘very wealthy and stiff in papistry’, before his death some twenty years later he 
repaid his debt to society by founding a grammar school at his birthplace and a second 
grammar school and almshouse at Guisborough. 36 

The rank and file North Riding religious fared rather less well on their expulsion from the 
cloister. Since individual canons had customarily served their house’s appropriations in 
person throughout the middle ages, the Gilbertines and Augustinians started with a distinct 
advantage. Richard Carter, canon of Malton, for example, presented by the priory to its 
Lincolnshire vicarage of Ancaster by 1535, simply stayed on in his parish after the dissolution, 
as did his fellow canon, Richard Dobson, who had been admitted to the living of Brompton 
in 1531 and was still officiating there in 1546. Henry Fletcher, a Guisborough canon, having 
similarly acquired his priory’s living of Lythe in 1537, continued in the cure until 1544. A 
second canon, Oliver Grayson, who secured the former Guisborough rectory of Easington 
in 1540, remained there throughout the changes of the reigns of Edward VI, Mary and 
Elizabeth until his death in 1578. Another member of the community, John Harrison, 
migrated to the priory’s living of East Harlsey, while the sub-prior, John Smythe, appears to 
have held Stainton, yet another of the priory’s appropriations, until his death in 1549. Two 
former Newburgh canons, Thomas Barker and Richard Lolly, obtained the priory’s vicarages 
of Thirkleby and Thirsk respectively, while three others, George Fish, William Barker and 

35 - L P Hen. VIII , XIII, pt. I p. 574; BI, Abp. Reg. 29 ff. 24v, 25v, 137v-140r; Ernden, Oxford 1501- 
1540 ' p. 335; D. S. Chambers, Faculty Office Registers, 1534-1549 (Oxford, 1966), p. 52. 

36 - Emden, Oxford 1501-40 \ pp. 467-8, 735; The Certificates of the Commissioners appointed to 
survey the Chantries, Guilds, Hospitals etc. in the County of York. Part II, ed. W. Page, Surtees 
Society XCII (1895), p. 381; Calendar of Patent Rolls, Plizabeth , I, pp. 289-90, II, p. 83; Calendar 
State Papers, Domestic Elizabeth 1601-3 with Addenda, p. 521. 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE NORTH RIDING 


155 


William Gray, ministered in succession at Kirkby Moorside, yet another of the appropriations 
which had previously belonged to their house. 3/ 

Whitby, a Benedictine foundation with a large number of livings at its disposal, was able to 
make a similar provision for some of its monks. After the dissolution Henry Barker occupied 
the former abbey living of Hackness until at least 1559, his fellow monk, John Watson, that 
of Fylingdales before moving on to the more valuable vicarage of Levisham. More commonly, 
the generality of dispossessed North Riding monks and canons had to content themselves, at 
least at first, with positions as stipendiary or chantry priests, but with pensions to boost 
their wages even in these more menial posts they could have counted on a reasonably 
comfortable existence. 38 

A much harsher lot awaited the friars who had not qualified for pensions. Several seem to 
have attempted to stay in the vicinity of their former priories. The Richmond Franciscan, 
William Lofthouse, served for a time as chaplain to St John’s guild in Richmond, dying in the 
town in 1560. Until 1548 the former warden of the Scarborough Franciscans, Richard Chapman, 
possessed a chantry in Scarborough parish church, where John Boroby, the last prior of the 
Carmelites, was also acting as a curate. With more livings available in the second part of the 
sixteenth century, some friars, like the former Scarborough Dominican prior, John Newton, 
vicar of Hutton Buscel in 1554, eventually attained the security of a parson’s freehold. 39 

By the end of the reign of Edward VI certainly six and perhaps as many as eight former 
North Riding monks had married - William Stapleton from Rievaulx, Thomas Whitby from 
Guisborough, Thomas Judson from Marton, James Barwick and Richard Lolly from 
Newburgh, William Harland from Easby, and possibly Thomas Hewett from Whitby and 
Richard Walker from Guisborough. While this on its own cannot be taken as a positive 
commitment to Protestantism, it suggests at the very least that they had accommodated 
themselves to the Reformation changes. 40 

The weight of evidence, however, points to the conservatism of most of these clergy, many of 
whom looked back with nostalgia to their time in the cloister. At his death little more than a 
month after the suppression of his house, John Pynder bestowed 12 d. upon ‘every one of my 
brether late of the monastery of Revalles’ on condition that ‘every one of them say or cause to 
be said three masses for the health of my soul.’ Thomas Wardroper bequeathed 12c/. to ‘every 
brother of Newburgh’ who attended his funeral in 1546, while his fellow canon, William 
Johnson, named no fewer than eight of his former colleagues in his will of the following year. In 
1549 Robert Smith, formerly of Rievaulx, left 12 d. ‘to every one of my brether being of live’, 
and as late as 1555 another former monk of the same house, Roger Watson, was still requesting 
the prayers of ‘every of my brethren that was in Ryval the day of our suppression.’ 41 

47 Valor Ecclesiasticus ( 1810-34), eds. J. Caley and J. Hunter, IV, p. 106, V, p. 98; BI, Abp. Reg. 29 f. 
28v, Sede Vac. Reg. 5 A ff. 649r, 678v.; Cav. Bk I ff. 28r, 61v; HC AB 8 f. 7 r; Prob. Reg. 13, pt. I ff. 
141 r, 517r; Cross and Vickers, Monks, Friars and Nuns, 319-20. 

38 BI, Chanc. AB 6 f. 37r; Exch. AB I f. 67v; V 1575 Misc. 

39 ' Wills and Inventories of the Archdeaconry of Richmond, ed. J. Raine, Surtees Society II (1835), p. 
144; Yorkshire Chantry Surveys, II, p. 513; BI, Prob. Reg. 13, pt. I f. 119r; Sede Vac. Reg. 5A f. 68 7v. 

40 A. G. Dickens, The Marian Reaction in the diocese of York: Part I. The Clergy, Borthwick Paper 
11 (York, 1957), pp. 24, 25, 27, 28, 30; G. Baskerville. ‘Married Clergy and the Pensioned Religious 
in the Diocese of Norwich 1555’, English Historical Review, XLVIII (1933), 222. 

41 BI, Prob. Reg. 11, pt. I f. 347v; Prob. Reg. 13, pt. I ff. 138v., 312v; Prob. Reg. 13, pt. II ff. 578v-579r; 
Prob. Reg. 14 ff. 179v-180v. 


156 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Having gravitated to Newcastle on Tyne, where he seems to have earned his living as a 
stipendiary priest, in 1551 William Bee, ‘some time a professed brother of the monastery of 
Mount Grace’, left two pairs of silver spectacles to John Wilson, the ‘father of Mount Grace’, 
and 12 d. ‘to eveiy one of my professed brethren of Mount Grace.’ The former members of 
the house who survived into the following reign responded with alacrity to Mary’s 
refoundation of the charterhouse of Sheen. The prior, John Wilson, four other of his monks, 
Robert Fletcher, Robert Marshall, Robert Shipley and Leonard Hall, and a converse, John 
Sanderson, all joined Sheen abbey in 1556, Wilson, Fletcher, Marshall and Shipley dying 
before the end of the reign, Saunderson and Hall accompanying the community into exile on 
Elizabeth's accession. Roger Thompson, ‘late a superstitious monk of Mount Grace’, who 
had lost the vicarage of Ampleforth on his refusal to swear the oath of supremacy in 1559, 
also subsequently migrated to the continent to become first vicar and afterwards prior of 
Sheen Anglorum until his death in October 1582. 42 

Like so many of the monks, North Riding nuns looked back regretfully to their old religious 
life. Prioress of Wykeham for more than a quarter of a centuiy before the dissolution, 
Katherine Nandyke did not long outlive the surrender of her house. Having arranged to be 
buried beside her parents in Kirkby Moorside church, and paid £4 for a priest to pray for a 
year for their souls, her soul and all her good friends’ souls, in her will of 1541 she left the 
church an honest chalice, a white damask vestment, an alb and a silk hanging, which may 
well have come from the priory. In addition to making numerous bequests to members of her 
natural family, and appointing her nephew, Christopher Nandyke, her heir, she gave Mistress 
Isabel Percy, one of her former nuns, a ‘pounced mislin basin and one five shillings of gold’, 
another former nun, Katherine Gale, a counter, an old ark, her worst feather bed, two pairs 
of linen sheets, a chair, an awmer rosary, two little kettles, and £3 65. 8 <£., and a further 65. 8 d. 
a piece to ‘eight of my sisters that was professed in Wykeham Abbey’. 43 

The circumstances of the last prioress of Ellerton could scarcely have been more different 
from those of Katherine Nandyke, who had clearly been able to live as a gentlewoman of 
some consequence. When Joan Harkey died in Richmond in 1554 her entire goods consisted 
of two brass pots and two pans, a frying pan and a roasting iron, some pewter dishes, an 
ewer and a few other implements, two little chests and a coffer, a chair, three cushions, an 
‘evil’ feather bed and some bedding, an aumbry, a kirtle, a coat and some linen, valued at 
a mere £3 125. 4 d. She, nevertheless, still set aside 12 c/. a head for four of her former nuns, 
Dame Alice Thompson, Dame Cecily Swale, Dame Agnes Aislaby and Dame Elizabeth 
Parker, and appointed a fifth, Dame Margaret Dowson, as her executor. 44 

A bequest in 1542 of £6 135. 4 <£., two cows with calves, two silver spoons and the second 
bed from her father, Richard Aislaby of Whitwell, gentleman, made it possible for Agnes 
Aislaby to adapt to life in the secular world more comfortably than her former prioress. 
Some time before the beginning of Mary’s reign she then went on to marry her father’s 
executor, Brian Spofforth, the incumbent of Barton in Ryedale. She was forcibly divorced 

42 Wills and Inventories of the Archdeaconry of Richmond, pp. 134-6; C. B. Rowntree, Studies in 
Carthusian History in Later Medieval England’, D.Phil thesis, University of York (1981), pp. 179, 
192, 506, 510, 521, 532, 533, 537; J. C. H. Aveling, Northern Catholics (London, 1966), p. 24. 

43 - BI, Prob. Reg. 11, pt. II ff. 559v-560r. 

44 - LDA, RD/AP1/43/19. 


THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE NORTH RIDING 


157 


from the priest on the restoration of Catholicism, and her former husband seems to have 
died soon afterwards. The only other North Riding nun definitely known to have married, 
Margaret Bashfurth of Moxby, claimed to have acted out of economic necessity. Having 
received nothing on the dissolution of her house she remained single for thirteen years, but 
then married Roger Newstead, a gressman of Thormanby. Also divorced in the Marian 
period, she returned to her husband after Elizabeth’s accession . 45 

A Marrick nun, Marjory Conyers, gentlewoman, a resident of Pontefract when she made 
her will in 1547, like Agnes Aislaby had almost certainly been subsidised by her family after 
her convent had gone down. With a pension of a only 66s. 8 d. she could not otherwise have 
afforded a servant on a wage of 85 . a year and acquired a goblet with a cover, a silver salt, a 
stone cup with a silver cover and a veiy considerable amount of bedding. A joint bequest in 
the will of a former Rievaulx monk suggests that another Marrick nun, Anne Ledeman, may 
have been living with her former prioress, Christabel Cowper, in 1555. At her death four 
years later in addition to bedding and other household goods, Anne Ledeman owned four 
gowns, four kirtles and a cloak, a little silver goblet, five silver spoons, two silver crucifixes 
and two rosaries, valued at a total of almost £ 1 1. 46 

Despite arrears with the payment of pensions in the mid century, Tudor governments had 
a commendable record of honouring their obligations towards the dispossessed religious, 
some of whom survived for a very long time after the dissolution. Nine former monks and 
four former nuns were still alive in 1582. In a tithe case of 1586 Margaret Newstead, nee 
Bashford, Elizabeth Burnett and Joan Hunton, recalled how some fifty years previously they 
had helped ‘to straw and cock the hay’ as young nuns at Moxby priory. By the end of the 
reign they had all died, and with their deaths memories of the religious life ebbed slowly 
away. Four centuries later only the ruins of the religious houses remain to bear witness to the 
last years of medieval monasticism in the North Riding of Yorkshire . 47 


45 BI, Prob. Reg. 11, pt II f. 647r; A. G, Dickens, The Marian Reaction in the Diocese of York: Part 
II, The Laity, Borthwick Paper 12 (York, 1957), pp. 16-19. 

46 BI, Prob. Reg. 13, pt. I ff. 335v-336r; Prob. Reg. 14 ff. 179v-180r; LDA, RD/AP1/55/40. 

47 TNA, LR/122/9.; BI, CP G 2216; N. Pevsner, Yorkshire, The North Riding (London, 1966), pp. 
94-101, 125-6, 142-6, 155-8, 177-8, 203-5, 232-3, 258-9, 291, 299-307, 388-93. 























Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


159 


‘THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS’: 
LIFE AND DEATH IN YORK CASTLE GAOL, 

1705 - 1745 * 

^Philip Woodfine 

York Castle Gaol, or 'Debtors' Prison', resembles a handsome Queen Anne mansion, but 
this examination of its early history' offers a corrective to optimistic views of the conditions 
experienced by debtor prisoners in the first half of the eighteenth century Overcrowding, 
hunger and disease menaced debtors and felons alike within York gaol. The gaol's keepers 
inflicted repeated abuses: excessive fees, overcharging for daily necessities, and even physical 
maltreatment. A detailed examination of the death of debtor William Petyt, at the hands of 
gaoler Thomas Griffiths in 1741, reveals the extent of the power of gaolers, and the vulnerability 
of debtors. 

The popular perception of eighteenth-century prison life is one of almost unrelieved 
squalor and cruelty. Non-specialist accounts draw heavily on Tyburn narratives, the lives of 
celebrity criminals such as Jack Sheppard and Dick Turpin, and Hogarth’s engravings of the 
rake and the idle apprentice . 1 Among professional historians, the condemnations of Sidney 
and Beatrice Webb in the early twentieth century framed a narrative, still influential, in 
which, before the investigations of John Howard and the reforming ideas of Bentham, 
prison life was bleak, oppressive and corrupt . 2 Holdsworth’s view that eighteenth-century 
prisons were ‘perhaps the most medieval institutions in England’ still broadly prevails . 3 
Historical enquiry, though lively in recent decades, has centred not on this earlier period but 
on the prison reform which began in the late eighteenth century. Scholars have been much 
influenced by Michel Foucault’s argument that the bourgeois state in the throes of 
industrialisation developed new prisons as one of many forms of surveillance and discipline 
of the poor . 4 A weakness of this work is that it focuses unduly on reform proponents such as 
Bentham, and on novel reformatories such as Millbank, rather than the workings of the great 


* This article was awarded the Sheldon Memorial Essay Prize, 2004. Place of publication is 
London, unless otherwise stated. 

1 It would be invidious to pick out a modern summary. Among older works, an almost perfect 
encapsulation of this approach was offered by Ted R. Jamison, ‘Prison Reform in the Augustan 
Age’, British History Illustrated, III (1976), pp. 57-65. 

2 Sidney & Beatrice Webb, English Local Government, VI: English Prisons under Local Government 
(London, 1963; 1st. edn, 1922), pp. 1-31. 

3 William Holdsworth, History of English Law, X (1966), p. 181. 

4 Michel Foucault, Surveiller et punir; naissance de la prison (Paris, 1975), translated by Alan 
Sheridan as Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (1977); Michael Ignatieff, A Just 
Measure of Pain: the Penitentiary in the Industrial Revolution, 1750 - 1850 (New York, 1978); 
Gertrude Himmelfarb, ‘The Haunted House of Jeremy Bentham’, in Ideas in History: Essays 
Presented to Louis Gottschalk by his Former Students , ed. Richard Herr and Harold T. Parker 
(Durham, NC, 1965), pp. 199-238; P. Linebaugh, The London Hanged: Crime and Civil Society 
in the Eighteenth Century (London, 1991). 


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majority of older prisons. In a non-centralised administrative system such as that of Britain, 
it is particularly important to look at a range of localities and prisons, rather than assume 
that local officials actually carried out national policy or adopted new ideas. 

One illuminating essay which did this was Joanna Innes’s study of the ancient prison of 
King’s Bench, and the dynamics of its daily life and operation. 5 She concluded that the 
running of the prison was a matter of achieving a balance between the Court of King’s Bench 
itself, the prison officers responsible for the security of the gaol, and the prisoners’ self- 
regulating college. The college operated according to rules, traditions, and ideas of justice 
and order that allowed the prisoners to regulate and even punish one another, but could as 
easily justify appeals, protest and even revolt. 6 7 Further detailed archival studies of prisoner 
participation in other gaols, and in earlier periods, would be of great value. One leading 
contribution to this field was the first chapter of Margaret De Lacy’s examination of the 
Lancashire county gaol at Lancaster/ Her conclusions may be described as broadly optimistic, 
picking out the strong sense of community responsibility for prisoners, expressed in 
allowances and charity as well as regular contacts with those inside the gaol. She argued that 
abuses by gaolers were rare, as was the supposedly endemic ‘gaol fever’, and pointed out that 
prisoners had a lively sense of their rights, and were willing to petition the Justices of the 
Peace for redress. 8 Lancaster cannot simply be accepted as representative, though, and 
without closely researched studies of other provincial gaols we risk generalising from too 
narrow a base of evidence. This essay is not the substantial work that is needed, but offers a 
tentative sketch of prison conditions in the leading county town in the north at this time, the 
city of York. If prison life was relatively good in the gaol at Lancaster - medieval in origin, 
though regularly repaired and rebuilt - then we might expect that the purpose-built new 
prison in York would show the best face of eighteenth-century incarceration. 

The dignified facade of the debtors’ prison in the castle yard of York, built early in the 
reign of Queen Anne, was one of the leading sights of the city in the first half of the eighteenth 
century, and beyond. York gaol was the only sizeable prison in the whole county of Yorkshire, 
and indeed the largest provincial gaol in the country. 9 Considered from an architectural 
point of view, the prison was a handsome addition to the city, the first new public building 
of any significance in what became an extensive Georgian rebuilding of the city. It was 
celebrated in 1736, in the first major historical account of the city, as a ‘most magnificent 
structure’, and ‘A building so noble and compleat as exceeds all others, of its kind, in Britain:, 
perhaps in Europe .’ 10 Built between 1701 and 1705, the gaol was a first step in the urban 


5 Joanna Innes, ‘The King’s Bench Prison in the later Eighteenth Century: law, authority and order 
in a London debtors’ prison’, in An Ungovernable People. The English and their Law in the Seventeenth 
and Eighteenth Centuries , ed.John Brewer and John Styles (1980), pp. 250-98. 

6 Ibid., pp. 286-98. 

7 Margaret De Lacy, Prison Reform in Lancashire, 1700-1850. A Study in Local Administration 
(Manchester, for the Chetham Society, 1986), pp. 15-55. 

8 Ibid., pp. 52-55. 

9 Ibid., p. 59. 

10 Francis Drake, Eboracum: or, the History and Antiquities of the City of York, from its Original 
to the Present Times (York, 1736), p. 287. 


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161 


reshaping of York, in which the miscellaneous vernacular building heritage of the town was 
restyled by classical forms and in accord with ideals of public sociability. Public spaces were 
to be made orderly, clean and appropriate to the ‘polite and elegant’ social mixing for which 
the city was becoming known. 11 They were even, for the sake of greater safety and decorum, 
to be illuminated at night. From 1724 the corporation provided for the oil lighting of the 
main streets, and in the following decades the city’s constables were responsible for carrying 
out a detailed schedule of lamp lighting at fixed places and times. 12 By the early 1730s, 
speculative builders were busily erecting new Georgian streetscapes such as those in the 
Bootham and Marygate area, to provide convenient modern houses in the fashionable classical 
style. Public buildings in the new taste were less numerous, but an important civic departure 
was the New Walk along the Ouse, funded in the early 1730s by the corporation, which also 
built the magnificent Mansion House, begun in 1725 and completed by 1732. 13 In the same 
year, during the 1732 race meeting, the Assembly Rooms, built to Lord Burlington’s innovative 
Palladian design, were opened to great applause from the assembled notables, who were 
entertained with a concert featuring the leading castrato singer Senesino. 14 

Even alongside such new showcase buildings, the baroque Castle Gaol, in its venerable 
Norman setting, continued to be one of the leading sights of York for visitors. A standard 
itinerary for those who could spend only a short time in seeing the city seems to have been 
the Minster, the Assembly Rooms and the prison. One such visitor in 1733 altogether ignored 
the new Mansion House in his survey of the city’s beauties: ‘The Assembly House, the 
Cathedral, and the Gaol are very fair buildings and well calculated to receive great numbers 
of the indifferent, the good, and the bad.’ 15 Admiration of the architecture of the gaol went 
along with the belief that it furnished model conditions for its inmates. John Wesley noted in 
his diary in 1759: ‘I visited two prisoners in the castle, which is, I suppose, the most 
commodious prison in Europe.’ 16 Tobias Smollett passed through York in 1768 and in a 
novel three years later he depicted leading character Matthew Bramble as having sampled 
the town’s tourist highlights: ‘... we stayed only one day to visit the Castle, the Minster and 


11 Ibid., p. 241. 

12 Linda Haywood, ‘The Role of York’s Parish Constables 1713-1835’, York Historian , XV 
(1998), 32. The hours of lighting and number of lamps were carefully specified each year: e.g. 
orders of 18 July 1740 and 16 July 1742, York City Archives [hereafter YCA], Court Book, F 15, 
fols. 222 r , 283 r . 

13 A valuable discussion of these developments is Peter Borsay, ‘Politeness and Elegance: the 
Cultural Re-Fashioning of Eighteenth-Century York’, in Eighteenth-Century York: Culture, Space 
and Society, ed. Mark Hallett and Jane Rendall (Borthwick Text and Calendar 30, York, 2003), pp. 
5-9. 

14 Anne Wentworth, Countess of Strafford, to Selina, Countess of Huntingdon, 25 August 1732, 
Huntington Library, Los Angeles, Hastings Correspondence, Box 69, HA 13207. 

15 R. Marsham to Francis Naylor, York, 23 September 1733: Historical Manuscripts Commission, 
Fourteenth Report, Appendix, Part IX, Manuscripts of Theodore J. Hare, Esq. (1895), p. 235. 

16 W. Reginald Ward & Richard P. Heitzenrater, ed., The Works of John Wesley, vol. 21 , Journals 
and Diaries 4, 1755-65 (Nashville, 1992), p. 187. 


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the Assembly-room: Bramble’s comments, like Wesley’s, probably reflected a generally held 
view of the gaol: 

the best, in all respects, I ever saw, at home or abroad - It stands in a high situation, extremely 
well ventilated; and has a spacious area within the walls, for the health and convenience of all 
the prisoners except those whom it is necessary to secure in close confinement - Even these last 
have all the comforts that the nature of their situation can admit. 17 

Such praise for the gaol at York undoubtedly stemmed in part from a belief that it contrasted 
favourably with the abuses and cruelties of the London debtors’ prisons, exposed in a much- 
publicised enquiry in 1729-30. 18 A London gaoler’s harsh behaviour had led to a parliamentary 
enquiry, under pressure from the philanthropist James Oglethorpe, whose friend Robert 
Castell had died of smallpox in the Fleet prison. Though Oglethorpe assembled a group of 
activists highly concerned over abuses, their main achievement was to generate publicity for 
the evils of the prison system rather than to produce reform. Their interim reports to 
Parliament told stories of prisoners beaten, tortured with tight iron shackles or thrust into 
a strong room, their health both physical and mental impaired by bullying and cruelty. 1 ^ 
These investigations, though, produced no changes in the prison regime as a whole. The 
committee looked only at the three main London prisons, concentrating on the corruption 
of the fee system and the misdeeds of individual gaolers. It made no positive suggestions for 
prison reform in its first two parliamentary sessions, and was not reconvened for a third. 20 
The Walpole ministry was unwilling to arouse City opposition by relaxing the laws on 
bankruptcy and taking away the supposed deterrent effect of imprisonment for debt. More 
immediately, it was unsettled by the popularity of the Gaols Committee among the opposition 
and even the independents in the House, and it was politically expedient to put a stop to a 
committee that threatened to become a popular centre of reform and criticism. 21 What 
Samuel Wesley greeted as the ‘glorious proceedings of the committee’ looked to the ministry 
like a dangerously prolonged series of political embarrassments. 22 

For the citizens of York, and for visiting travellers, the main lasting effect of the publicity 
surrounding the Gaols Committee, and its revelations of irons and torture, may have been a 


17 Tobias Smollett, The Expedition of Humphrey Clinker , 3 vols., 2nd. edn, (1771), II, 137. 

18 Reports of the Inquiry into the State of the Prisons, 20 March 1728/9, 14 May 1729 and 24 
March 1729/30, Commons Journals [hereafter CJ\, XXI, pp. 274-83, 376-80, 513. For the frequent 
enquiries into London’s gaols, see Roger Lee Brown, A History of the Fleet Prison, London. 
The Anatomy of the Fleet (Lewiston, 1996), passim. 

19 E.g. CJ XXI, 278-9. 

20 A recent critical evaluation is Alex Pitofsky, ‘The Warden’s Court Martial: James Oglethorpe 
and the Politics of Eighteenth-Century Prison Reform’, Eighteenth-Century Life XXIV (2000), 

pp. 88-102. 

21 A thorough analysis of the political context of the enquiry is Andrew A. Hanham, ‘Whig 
Opposition to Sir Robert Walpole in the House of Commons, 1727-1734’, (PhD thesis, University 
of Leicester, 1992), pp. 226-53. 

22 [Samuel Wesley], The Prisons Opend. A Poem Occasion'd by the Late Glorious Proceedings 
of the Committee Appointed to Enquire into the State of the Gaols of the Kingdom (1729). 


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163 


complacent sense that the county’s own gaol was very different to the squalid prisons of 
London. In truth, however, the dignified baroque facade of the gaol gave a false air of 
grandeur and rationality: the prisoners within the gaol certainly did not enjoy the country 
house conditions suggested by its exterior and floor plan. 23 Built as the County Gaol, it was 
intended originally to house those accused of serious crimes until the next bi-annual Assizes 
were held, and to hold convicted felons until they were either hanged or transported to the 
American colonies. Lesser criminals escaped the Castle, and might instead be whipped or 
pilloried, perhaps spending two or three months in the house of correction. 24 The County 
Gaol soon became commonly known as the Debtors’ Prison, since those imprisoned on suit 
of debt actually made up the majority of the prison’s population. Felons and transports 
continued to be kept in the cells at York, but the more numerous and the longest-staying 
inmates were those who were unfortunate enough to owe money. Prisoners for debt, unlike 
criminals, might spend years in a gaol where they still had to keep themselves in everyday 
necessities, had to pay substantial fees and charges, and yet had few or no opportunities to 
earn any money. 25 This article is mainly concerned with the plight of these longer-term 
prisoners. The felons come into the story too, though, since they were housed in the same 
building in worse and more crowded rooms than the debtors. Their proximity was part of 
the stigma that debtors suffered, and the number and conditions of the felons could influence 
the debtors’ comfort, health and even lives. Crucially for the wellbeing of debtors, they were 
as much subject as were felons to a gaoler who was not only powerful but also in effect the 
manager of a franchise which had to return a profit. 

Less than three years after the completion of this commodious and handsome prison 
building, inmates were already complaining of cruelty, torture and extortion by the gaoler, 
and such complaints recurred frequently in the course of the eighteenth century. 26 In 
November 1707, for instance, one debtor, Thomas Simpson, swore an information against 
Edward Hinchliffe, the under-gaoler, alleging that he had shackled Simpson with heavy, 
unjointed irons in which he ‘could not stand or so much as turn himself without help’. 
Hinchliffe had threatened to leave his prisoner to ‘lye and rott upon the stone floor he then 
laid on’ unless he signed a bond confessing a judgment against him for thirty pounds. 2 ' Two 
years later, gaoler E. Chippindale (.s/c) was the subject of an impassioned petition signed by 
ten prisoners. The terms of this complaint give a good idea of the outlook and expectations 


23 The best discussion of the design and building of the prison is Stephanie Adele Leeman, ‘Stone 
Walls do not a Prison Make: the Debtors’ Prison, York’, York Historian XI (1994), pp. 23-39. For a 
detailed survey of the prison and its surroundings, Royal Commission on Historical Monuments, 
An Inventory of the Historical Monuments in the City of York , II, The Defences (1972), pp. 65-6, 
78-82. 

24 The York Sheriffs Court Book is full of instances: e.g. YCA, F15, Court Book 1728-44, fol. 270 v . 

25 De Lacy, Prison Reform in Lancashire , pp. 50-1; T. P. Cooper, The History of the Castle of 
York, from its Foundation to the Present Day, with an Account of the Building of Clifford's Tower 
(1911), pp. 220-4. 

26 Petitions of January 1708 and July 1709, West Yorkshire Archive Service [hereafter WYAS], 
Wakefield, West Riding Quarter Sessions, QS 1/47/1, QS 1/48/6. 

27 Petition of William Wickham, with information on oath from Thomas Sympson, 12 November 
1707, WYAS, Wakefield, QS 1/47/1. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


of the debtors who signed it. They were in essence complaining of the monopoly commercial 
power of the gaoler over them, and of being cut off from the town and from traditional 
prison privileges. 28 Their first objection was that he would not allow them ‘to have their Beer 
and ale with other necessaiys forth of the City but enforces them to have the same out of the 
Gaol at double rates’. Chippendale also took an unfair cut from the money raised by those 
prisoners, certified by their parish as paupers, who were permitted to beg through the town. 
The petition alleged that Chippendale deducted from the cash given to each of these recipients 
a shilling a week for himself and sixpence for the key turner, Ward. A further complaint 
against Ward was that he daily showed gentry and others the castle, gaining in tips more than 
sixty pounds a year that could and should have been distributed to the poor prisoners. 

The brutalities that were also complained of in this petition may in fact have been largely 
imaginary, as was alleged in a subsequent petition signed by a majority of the inmates. 
Supported by the preacher to the prisoners, Charles Mace, they praised the charity and 
honesty of the gaoler, and stigmatised the original petition as vexatious, and got up by a ‘few 
ill natured & unquiet People’. 22 Behind the ‘vexatious’ petition, though, lay a sense of invidious 
and unfair treatment, and a clear resentment of the commercial monopoly power of the 
gaoler. The more usual petition complained of want and distress, as did that of 1722 from the 
condemned felons waiting to be transported. Delays in arranging their transportation meant 
that seventy-six prisoners were crowded in the felons’ quarters of the gaol (roughly four to a 
cell), ‘and more comes in daily’. Forsaken by their friends, they appealed to have the usual 
county allowance, on which they relied for purchasing a basic food ration, restored to them 
without the illegal eight shillings a week deduction currently being made by the gaoler, Mr. 
Thompson. 30 Debtors were not unconcerned in this, since anything that worsened the health 
of overcrowded felons might set off an episode of gaol fever (typhus), of which all prisoners 
lived in fear. Injanuary 1724/5 the debtors and felons combined, unusually, to petition for 
immediate relief. With 87 prisoners in the gaol ‘on shares’, dependent on the county allowance 
of money and bread, ‘a great many of us [are] ready to starve for want of subsistence ... so that 
without some speedy reliefe we must inevitably perish for want’. 31 Another petition was 
presented in April by these same prisoners, ‘in Danger of being starved for want of Bread. 
For want of which and other necessarys there is now at this time a most violent distemper 
wch rages in the Goal.’ 32 As always when such petitions were received, the Justices in 
Quarter Sessions appointed two of their number to investigate, and in this case an extra 
bread allowance was given to the prisoners. 

Three years later, the number of inmates had risen to over 140 and gaol fever was rife, with 
many deaths, and the diseased ‘in that miserable stinking condition have been in danger of 


28 Petition of ‘several the poor prisoners for debt in the castle of York’ 14 July 1709, WYAS, 
Wakefield, QS 1/48/6. 

29 Counter petition of 52 prisoners, 3 August 1709, WYAS, Wakefield, QS 1/48/7. 

30 Petition from ‘the poor Distressed and Deplorable Criminals now confined in the Castle of York’, 
September 1722, WYAS, Wakefield, QS 1/61/9. 

31 Humble petition of ‘the debtors and felons upon shares in York Castle’, January 1724/5, WYAS, 
Wakefield, QS 1/64/2. 

32 Petition of ‘the poor prisoners in York Castle being eighty in number’, WYAS, Wakefield, QS 1/64/4. 


THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS 


165 


infecting the whole Goal’. 33 It was in response to this specific crisis and petition that the 
Justices of the three Ridings agreed to appoint and pay an apothecary to attend upon the 
prisoners, to prevent the spread of disease. Overcrowding was a serious danger, not only 
because it put a strain on food resources and made inmates vulnerable to gaol fever, but also 
because it threatened life directly. Oglethorpe’s Gaols Committee had painted a vivid picture 
of rooms in the Marshalsea prison so crowded that in summer the stench was intolerable and 
prisoners sometimes died of suffocation. 34 That very thing happened, with less publicity, in 
the supposedly commodious accommodation of York gaol in late October 1737, when nine 
felons in one cell died of suffocation in the night. 3 "’ I'he repeated appeals and petitions in the 
records of the county Quarter Sessions seem to tell us that infectious disease and the monopoly 
pricing and arbitrary power of gaolers were the worst evils of prison life. They also reveal 
that there might be two sides to the complaints of prisoners. Rarely, though, do they allow us 
to reconstruct in any detail the events that lay behind the complaints of prisoners. The rest 
of this article will be given over to the examination of one particular incident that does allow 
an unusually detailed view of conditions for debtors in York castle gaol. It involved the death 
of a debtor at the hands of the prison officers, and has left traces in the records of the courts 
and even of central government. 

On 7 August 1741, the door to a disused dungeon called the ‘women’s condemned hole’ 
was opened, and a bruised and beaten man, William Petyt, was thrust down into it and left for 
eleven days, his only bedding a thin layer of straw laid on damp stones. This abuse led within 
three weeks to his death, a fact which was at first hushed up by the gaoler, Thomas Griffiths. 36 
On the day that Petyt died, Griffiths waited some hours and then called in his particular 
friend Ward, ‘an Attorney of no very good Character', to act as coroner. 3 Ward in turn 
waited some time, and came at seven in the evening, when all the prisoners were locked away 
for the night. Then Ward allowed Griffiths himself to nominate a jury ‘which consisted only 
of such poor prisoners as he had an influence over’. 38 Only one juror actually viewed the 
body, and a verdict of natural death was soon brought in. 34 Deaths of this kind were not 
unknown. Among the abuses that the Gaols Committee had detected was a case that closely 
resembled that of Petyt, in which a mentally ill prisoner, an upholsterer named Edward Arne, 
was confined for six weeks in unhealthy conditions and so died. He was carried into a stable 
‘and was there confined (being a Place of cold Restraint) till he died; and ... he was in a good 


33 Petition of l Wm Greene, Michael Waterhouse, Richard Clark and John Hall in behalf of themselves 
& the rest of the poor prisoners in his Majties Goal the Castle of York’, April 1728, WYAS, Wakefield, 
QS 1/67/4. The East Riding Justices were also petitioned: East Riding of Yorkshire Archives and 
Records Service, Beverley, QSF/80/E/1. 

34 CJ, XXI, 377-8. 

35 York Gaol deaths and births entries, Yorkshire Archaeological Society, MS 489. The unfortunate 
nine were ‘Buried behind ye Castle’. 

36 Petyt was buried in St. Margaret’s churchyard on 28 August 1741; ibid. 

37 Richard Witton to the Duke of Newcastle, 2 November 1741, British Library, Additional MSS 
[hereafter BL, Add. MSS], 32698, fob 251 v . 

38 Ibid. 

Ibid., fob 252 r . 


39 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


state of Health before he was confined to that Room’. 40 As a result of the enquiry, the Warden 
of the Fleet prison, John Huggins, was charged with Arne’s murder but, despite the national 
attention given to the trial and the height of feeling in London, he was acquitted. 41 It was 
unlikely that the York gaoler would be successfully convicted of a similar offence. However, 
other debtors housed in the gaol, already angry and resentful about their treatment and 
conditions, were not prepared to let the matter lie. They gave their own evidence about what 
had happened, and pressed first a county Member of Parliament and then a local magistrate 
to investigate Petyt’s death and punish the gaoler. 

York’s gaol was not controlled, like its larger London counterparts, by a court such as 
King’s Bench, which laid down rules for the conduct of prisons and intervened in disputes. 
If prisoners at York wished to complain against their treatment at the hands of the gaoler, 
they had a less clearly defined appeal to the county of Yorkshire, which was responsible, 
through the High Sheriff, for the prison. In the Petyt case, the prisoners first called on one of 
the county’s two Members of Parliament, Sir Miles Stapylton. When he failed to act, they 
appealed to the unpaid gentry who acted as Justices of the Peace for the West Riding, from 
which Petyt came. The Justices, assembled in their Quarter Sessions, had jurisdiction over 
the treatment of a prisoner who had originally been committed by them to York gaol, and 
were duty bound to enquire into the circumstances of Petyt’s death. Two of these gentry 
Justices, Richard Witton and Richard Dawson, seem to have pursued their investigations in 
a zealous and concerned way. They were energetic and prompt in travelling, hearing and 
recording testimony, and writing (at some cost) to the responsible minister, Secretary of 
State the Duke of Newcastle. As the leading Justice concerned, Richard Witton of Lupset, 
Wakefield, found out, an unpaid magistrate who wanted to send information to London as 
quickly as possible, by a relay of post boys, had to pay for the costly ‘expresses’ out of his own 
pocket. 42 Witton suggested that the King should take on the cost of prosecuting Griffiths, 
since all the informants were ‘poor prisoners for small Debts all of them together not able to 
raise 40s. towards the Charge of a Prosecution’, but he was met with a firm refusal. 43 The 
Attorney General, Sir Dudley Ryder, gave his opinion to the Secretary of State that unless 
the case was manifestly one of murder, it should remain a matter of private prosecution. If 
the debtors failed to find the money, nonetheless it could be raised by someone in York. It 
could not, said Ryder, ‘be presumed in so great a City there can be wanting a Friend to supply 
any such Expences as those’. 44 

The high costs so often involved in securing justice had been the subject of protest in 
Yorkshire in the recent past, and had led to a popular clamour against abuses in the legal 
profession. Just ten years earlier, York had been the centre of an agitation, led by Sir George 
Savile, to remove a particular obstacle to cheap and accessible justice, the use of Latin in the 


40 CJ, XXI, 275. 

41 Brown, Fleet Prison , pp. 70-3. 

42 Witton to Newcastle, 23 November 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fol. 364 r . 

43 Witton to Newcastle, 2 November 1741, ibid '., fol. 253 v . 

44 Dudley Ryder to Newcastle, 3 November 1741, Public Record Office, State Papers Domestic, SP 
36/57, fol. 60 r . 


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167 


courts. 45 Memories of this campaign must have contributed to make the Duke of Newcastle 
reluctant, despite Witton’s urging, to stir up the already sensitive issue of prison conditions, 
especially at a time of political crisis, which this was. The autumn of 1741, when the 
investigation into Petyt’s death was launched, was a dangerous time for the long-established 
Whig ministry of Sir Robert Walpole which was now fighting for survival. Embroiled in a 
war with Spain that was going badly, the ministry faced unprecedented attacks from a 
combined opposition of Tories and dissident Whigs, who sensed that the fall of Walpole, so 
long campaigned for, might now finally be near. 46 The elections held in May that year had 
resulted in an unsustainably narrow majority for Walpole, who was finally to be compelled to 
resign in February 1742. 4/ With every single seat now important to the embattled ministry, a 
by-election in Yorkshire was under way when Witton began his agitation for justice against 
the keeper of the county’s gaol in York castle. The votes would be cast in the castle yard, in 
front of the prison itself, where the hustings always stood. 

The recent electoral contests of May had been fierce in Yorkshire, not least in York, which 
was controlled by a strongly partisan Tory council. With the elections barely over, a by- 
election contest between the newly elected York Tory Member, George Fox and the Whig, 
Cholmley Turner, set party and personal rivalries in motion once more just as the enquiry 
into Petyt’s death began. 48 Tories and opposition Whigs joined in a non-party ‘Patriot’ 
alliance, attacking the ministry with great virulence. Even more disturbing to the Court 
Whigs was that parts of Yorkshire showed Jacobite sentiments of alienation from the entire 
Hanoverian regime. 49 One York man, Joseph Harrison, may have been an isolated case, and 
was certainly a drunken one, when he shouted in the street: ‘God damn King George, Damn 
the Parliament ... Damn King George he has no right to the Crown’. 50 There were certainly 
grounds for the ministry’s perception of York, and indeed Yorkshire, as a disaffected place 
in which issues such as prison conditions could not safely be agitated. Lord Irwin urged the 


45 Despite the opposition of the entire legal profession, it was Savile, as an MP for the county of 
Yorkshire, who carried through Parliament a radical Act ordering that all proceedings of justice had 
to be in English, which from 1733 they were. Hanham, ‘Whig Opposition’, pp. 257-75. 

46 Philip Woodfine, Britannia’s Glories. The Walpole Ministry and the 1739 War with Spain 
(Woodbridge, 1998), pp. 210-39. 

47 Jeremy Black, Walpole in Power (Stroud, 2001), pp. 167-73. 

48 And not only among the elite. One unfortunate government supporter drank the health of 
Cholmley Turner in a Bradford inn on Christmas Eve 1741, and was badly beaten up for his 
pains. Deposition of Robert Thorburn, 30 January 1741/2, TNA (PRO), Records of King’s 
Bench, KB 1/7, affidavit bundles, Hilary 15 Geo II, unfoliated. 

49 A stimulating discussion of the Tory mindset is Gabriel Glickman, ‘The Career of Sir John Hynde 
Cotton, 1688-1752’, Historical Journal XLVI, 4 (December 2003), pp. 817-42. A wider context can 
be found in Christine Gerrard, The Patriot Opposition to Walpole. Politics, Poetry, and National 
Myth, 1 725- 1 742 (Oxford, 1994) and Paul Kleber M o n o d ,Jacobitism and the English People, 1688- 
1788 (Cambridge, 1989). 

50 Informations of Joseph Hewitt, Robert Watson and John Matthews, sworn before Richard 
Lawson, Mayor, TNA (PRO), Assize Records N & NE Circuits, ASSI 45 22/2, Criminal 
Depositions and Case Papers, 1742, fob 65.; TNA (PRO), ASSI 44/57, Indictment Files, 1742, 
unfoliated: found ‘a true bill’. 


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Duke of Newcastle to encourage government supporters in the North Riding, ‘a Part of ye 
County, where most of ye Gentlemen, I believe I may say all, are professed Jacobites...’. 51 The 
embattled ministers, casting about for every vote that they could bring to the by-election 
contest, were not likely to want to revive in York the spirit of the Gaols Committee. 52 

WEen the Petyt case first came to the notice of the gentry of the county, therefore, it was at 
a time of heightened political tension. Given ministerial fears of the potential for opposition 
in such issues, it is all the more creditable that the Justices who took up Petyt’s politically 
inopportune cause were active pro-government Whigs. The leading proponent of the case 
against gaoler Griffiths was Richard Witton, then active in the by-election campaign. 53 Though 
Witton had married into the Tory family of Sir William Milner of Nun Appleton, his own 
sentiments were staunchly in favour of Walpole and King George, as can be seen in an 
important surviving speech. 54 On the 8 October 1741 Witton was elected chairman of the 
West Riding Quarter Sessions, and just a week later he used his public platform at the 
Barnsley sitting of Quarter Sessions to denounce ‘the mad and unruly Passions of the People 
of this Nation ... overheated by factious and wicked Leaders, (pretending always the publick 
Good but in Reality intending only their own private View and Interests)’. 55 Witton’s interest 
in the case of Petyt, and the condition of York gaol, stemmed not from partisan politics but 
from his position as a senior magistrate. West Riding Justices of the Peace retained a 
responsibility for their own convicts confined in the castle at York, and Petyt was a West 
Riding weaver. As chairman of the Sessions, and a man proud of his early training and 
practice at the Bar, Richard Witton was driven to pursue the interests of justice, even if at 
personal and perhaps political cost. 5b 

Evidence of dissatisfaction among the prisoners about their treatment in York castle had 
already reached Witton by late September, about a month after the death of Petyt. George 
Keith, a prisoner, swore an information before Witton, complaining of the behaviour of the 
apothecary appointed to attend the sick prisoners in York gaol from the West and North 
Ridings. Keith alleged that Mr. Dodsworth 4 is Guilty of a great Neglect in his Duty and has 
refused to come to such prisoners when he has been sent for whereby many prisoners have 
suffered greatly’. The East Riding appointee, Mr. Boreham, was no better and ‘hath Neglected 
to Visit his Patients for Five Days together’. 5 ' Soon afterwards, Witton was approached with 


51 Henry Ingram, Viscount Irwin, to Newcastle, Temple Newsam, 16 November 1741, BL, Add. 
MSS, 32698, fol. 325 r . 

52 E.g. J. Clay to Peter Forbes, Nottingham, 28 October 1741, ibid., fol. 225 r . 

53 List of attenders at a nomination meeting at the George Inn, 29 August 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 
32697, fol. 522 r . 

54 A Charge to the Grand-Jury at the Quarter-Sessions Held at Barnsley in Yorkshire, the Fifteenth 
Day of October, 1741 , by Richard Witton, of Lupset, Esq. (York, 1741), reprinted in Georges Lamoine, 
ed., Charges to the Grand Jury 1689-1803 , Royal Historical Society, Camden Fourth Series, XLIII 
(1992), pp. 319-24. 

55 WYAS, Wakefield, QS Rolls box 139, 2: Lamoine, ed, Charges to the Grand-Jury, p. 319. 

56 Lamoine, ed, Charges to the Grand-Jury, pp. 321-2. 

57 Information of George Keith sworn before Witton, 24 Sepember 1741, WYAS, Wakefield, QS 
Rolls box 139, 1. 


THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS 


169 


the first notice of the Petyt case by Richard Dawson, an active magistrate at York and fellow 
government Whig. Dawson sent him copies of informations gi ven by several of Petyt’s fellow 
prisoners. They had drawn up and signed a narrative of Petyt’s punishment and death, and 
sent it to the Tory MP for the county, Sir Miles Stapylton, who was then at York, ‘to desire 
he wod. make due Inquiry into the Same’. 58 Stapylton visited the prison with John Mayer, an 
attorney and York alderman who soon afterwards became Lord Mayor, and took depositions 
from several prisoners. Then Sir Miles let the informations lie for some time and subsequently 
lost them. The informants, doubting whether Stapylton would ‘meddle any further’, sent 
their narrative to Dawson who laid it before Witton, wanting another Justice to act with him. 
Witton called the gaoler to the Leeds Quarter Sessions to answer the charges against him, 
and Griffiths duly came, with a clutch of sworn testimonies in his own defence. The assembled 
magistrates - ‘no less than 16 Justices, many of them of the first Quality’ - decided that a 
further investigation was called for. 59 

That investigation will be followed in some detail for the light that it throws on conditions 
for prisoners and on the cumbersome procedures for punishing abuses. Witton and Dawson 
went to York castle on 26 October 1741 and personally took the sworn testimonies of a 
number of prisoners, piecing together an account of how 7 Petyt had met his death. The 
immediate cause of the incident came when Petyt’s mother Ann, also a prisoner for debt in 
the same gaol but in a different day room to her son, was objected to by a fellow 7 inmate, Batty 
and his wife, who ‘say’d she was so Lousy & Filthy that she was a Nusance to their Room’. 60 
Hearing of this, Petyt quarrelled with Batty, upon which George Scott, the turnkey, and 
Richard Cooper, the drawer, were called. Then: 

by Order of Griffith the Gaoler [they] Haul’d him towards the Dungeon, This was on the 7 th 
of August last, at wch time Petyt was so Strong and healthful, & made so Great a Resistance agt. 
being carryed to that Wretched Hole that he had like to have Overpowered those two persons, 
which the Gaoler himself seeing, he came in to their Assistance, with whose Help, & by giving him 
several Blows, & Bruises, they at last Forc’d him into the Dungeon. A Place Under-Ground 
which Mr. Dawson & I viewed so Moist, & Unhealthfull, that we both of us Wondred how any 
One could live in it so long as Petyt did which was Eleven days. 61 

The dungeon was not literally underground, but on the ground floor podium level. The 
magistrates’ impression arose from the fact that these cells, normally for felons, were largely 
windowless and accessible only from the first floor. 62 However, the cell was clearly cold and 
wet enough to daunt, not only two gentlemen used to comfortable living, but also hardened 
prisoners. One such, John Kaye, testified that he ‘had been several Years in Goal and that he 
was a stronger Man than Petyt and that Petyt was Eleven Days in the Condemned Flole where 
he this Informant could not have lived Four Days’. 63 The gaoler himself admitted that the 

58 Witton to Newcastle, 2 November 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fob 252'. 

59 WYAS, Wakefield, QS Rolls box 139, 4; Richard Witton to Duke of Newcastle, 3 November 1741, 
BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fob 252 v . 

60 Witton to Newcastle, 2 November 1741, Ibid., fob 250 r . 

61 Ibid., fob 250 v . 

62 See Leeman, ‘Stone Walls do not a Prison Make’, pp. 27-8. 

63 Information of John Kaye, prisoner, before Witton and Dawson, 26 October 1741, TNA (PRO), 
ASSI 45 22/2, fob 56'. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


women’s condemned hole had not been used for many years, ‘Except a man furiously Mad, 
& that only for a few Hours’. 64 

Several prisoners testified to the violence exercised against Petyt by his keepers. Robert 
MacCloud remonstrated with the attackers as they hauled Petyt from the Felons’ Grate and 
along the passage to the cell. He was promptly threatened by Griffiths with being put in the 
same dungeon, and only excused ‘ by a Fellow Prisoner beging Pardon for him’. 65 Kaye later 
‘found the said Petyt in the Dungeon Mourning [sic] and often after he heard him Complaining 
of Coldness and Bruises given him by their ill Usage and laid his Death to their Charge and 
... there was a Deal of Blood came from him the said Petyt as appeared amongst the Straw the 
said Petyt laid on’. 66 The lack of medical care, of which Witton had already heard a month 
before, became apparent in this case: ‘tho’ the several Ridings allow a Competent Sallary to 
a Surgeon & an Apothecary for attending all poor Prisoners when sick or ill yet such Surgeons 
were not allowed to attend this poor Man or Minister any relief to him.’ 67 When let out, veiy 
weak and ill, Petyt attempted to work but did not recover and died nine days later, on 27 
August, his corpse black from head to knees and marked with bruises. His mother, Ann, 
testified: 

That when her Son was Dead she View’d the body & Laid him in his Coffin, that his Neck & 
throat were black & sweld, & his Members were black, & the blackness continued down his 
Thighs. That he Twisted two pounds & half of Yarn after he was Discharged from the Dungeon 
but was so ill he was forced to get a Man to Wind & Reel it, he was so bad he coud not do it 
himself. 68 

This evidence gives a glimpse not only of Petyt’s bodily sufferings but of the small 
commercial interchanges of the debtors, and their attempts by every means to continue their 
trade or otherwise earn money. William Fountain, one of the prisoners chosen by Griffiths to 
testify for him, had asked Petyt to twist some yarn for him, to make a fishing knot. Petyt told 
him: 

he was so ill that he was afraid that he could not do it for him but he would try to do it, and 
about two or three hours after he came to this Informant and told him that he had been tying 
to twist the yarn for him but could not, for the Blows and Bruises he said he had rece’d from the 
Gaoler and his Servants had rendred him unable to do any business. 69 

Petyt also told Fountain that the true cause of his confinement was that he had laid an 
information against Griffiths the month before. As Witton summarised it; ‘the Real Cause is 
believ’d to be this; that Petit at the last Assizes complained agt. Griffiths the Goaler for 
Extortion & other Oppressions towards him & his other Prisoners’. 70 As in the petitions of 

64 Witton to Newcastle, 2 November 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fol. 250 v . 

65 Evidence of Robert Mackelowd (sic: signed mac Clloud), 26 October 1741, TNA (PRO), ASSI 
45 22/2, fol. 57 r . See also evidence of John Pickersgill and Christopher Whitling, ibid., fols. 58- 
60. 

66 Information of John Kaye, 26 October 1741, TNA (PRO), ASSI 45 22/2, fol. 56 r . 

67 Witton to Newcastle, 2 November 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fol. 251 r . 

68 Evidence of Ann Petyt, 26 October 1741, TNA (PRO), ASSI 45 22/2, fol. 58 r . 

69 Evidence of William Fountain, sworn beforejaques Stern, Francis Barlow and Mark and Francis 
Braithwait, 3 October 1741, TNA (PRO), SP 36/57, fol. 5 r . 

70 Witton to Newcastle, 23 November 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fol. 363. 


THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS 


17 i 


Queen Anne’s reign, there may have been an attempt by some prisoners, including Petyt, to 
protest at the way in which the keeper of the gaol abused his commercial monopoly. 

Once these depositions had been gathered and the outline of events was clear, Witton and 
Dawson called a meeting at York castle on Tuesday 27 October to decide what steps to take. 
They met with two other Justices, Mark Braithwait of Deighton and Francis Barlow, who 
had been among those called by Griffiths on 3 October to take the original testimonies in his 
defence. Witton wanted to proceed against the coroner, scandalised by his irregular 
procedures, and was insistent that the four justices assembled should charge and commit 
Griffith, Scott and Cooper all three. Dawson was happy to act against the two gaol servants, 
but less sure that the evidence would allow them to commit Griffith. However the two other 
Justices, Barlow and Braithwait, were against any committal at all and made an entry to that 
effect in the Castle Book. 71 Witton made a warrant of commitment for all three prison 
officers, but the two dissenting magistrates pressed him to wait for the High Sheriff, Sir 
Lionel Pilkington, to be sent for. The next day Pilkington came and asked for bail to be 
taken for Griffiths as he could not at short notice find a replacement gaoler to secure the 
prison against escapes. On this, reported Witton, ‘Mr. Barlow & Dr. Braithwaite did then 
Declare in some Heat, that tho I sho’d commit them for Murther, yet nevertheless they wod 
Bail them, a Doctrine very Strange to me that have been Bred a Lawyer’. 72 

Writing soon after these events, he told the Duke of Newcastle how, when at the bar, he had 
heard Lord Chief Justice Holt rule against bailing, as being a deterrent to prosecution. This 
would be much more so in the present case, he argued, ‘where all the King’s Witnesses were 
under the Power and Terror of the Goaler, & liable to be practised on by him.’ Nonetheless, 
Barlow and Braithwait granted bail, and took sureties from men ‘of Small Substance’. 73 
Undeterred by the practical and legal doubts of the Sheriff, Witton and Dawson still opposed 
bail, ‘thinking the Proof very strong to Convict the Offenders of Murther’/ 4 They issued a 
warrant charging that Petyt died under duress, and sent a charge to the army commander in 
York, Colonel Jordan, to be prepared to take over the guarding of the prison. 70 In pressing 
the case so hard, Witton was almost certainly exceeding his authority but he was driven by 
a conviction ‘that Prisoners in a Gaol are under a particular Protection of Law’. 76 His legal 
hero was the seventeenth-century jurist, Sir Matthew Hale who, discussing 

the several ways whereby a Goaler may be Guilty of Murder towards his Prisoner Amongst 
several others mentions this viz; Lying or Confining him too Closely in a Noisom place. And 
says that Duress of Imprisomt. is said to be inflicted on every one that by that Usage of his 
Keeper is brought near to Death & further from Life ... . 77 


71 Witton to Newcastle, 2 November 1741, ibid., fol. 253 r . 

72 Ibid 

73 Ibid., fol. 253 v . Sir John Holt (1642-1710) was famed for his impartiality and his regard for the 
rights of the accused. 

74 Witton to Newcastle 31 October 1741, TNA (PRO), SP 36/57, fol. 43 v . 

75 Warrant to Sir Lyonel Pilkington, Bart, High Sheriff, and John Wilmer, gentleman, Under- 
sheriff, 27 October 1741; Charge to the troops, 28 October 1741, ibid., fols. 50-1. 

76 Witton to Newcastle 31 October 1741, ibid., fol. 45 r . 

Witton to Newcastle, 23 November 1741, BL, Add. 32698, fol. 364 r . 


77 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


It was this strong sense of the protections given to prisoners by the Common Law which 
convinced Witton that Griffiths should be brought to trial for murder. 

The testimonies produced by the prison governor himself told, naturally, a very different 
story. George Whitehouse, a prisoner for debt, was the sole person ordered by Ward, the 
coroner, to view Petyt’s body. He claimed to have particularly scrutinised it because of the 
rumours but to have seen no marks of violence or bruising. Whitehouse further volunteered 
that Petyt had often complained to him ‘that he had frequent pains in his Body which he 
believed to be owing to his much leaning over his Loom when at his work for he was a 
weaver by trade...’. 78 Prisoners George Batty and James Collison both testified that Petyt, ‘an 
ill-natured peevish obstinate man’, was being ‘insolent and sawcy’ and violent towards the 
turnkey. In Collison’s account, Petyt even admitted that he had only his own insolence to 
thank for his confinement/ 9 William Wiley, another prisoner, said Petyt was a dropsical 
infirm man and was as well when he came out of the dungeon as when he went in, making no 
complaint of ill usage, and that this ‘would be confirmed by eveiy person in the Goal except 
five or six turbulent persons.’ 80 There was a ‘distemper’ raging in the gaol and James 
Dodsworth, the York apothecary and surgeon employed to take care of West Riding prisoners, 
testified that Petyt died solely of a fever and at no time complained of any bruises or ill 
treatment. 81 Peter Law, a charity school apprentice to Dodsworth, duly swore that Petyt had 
been given medical treatment for a fever, though no other witness confirmed this. 82 The 
medical evidence was crucial to the case, and in late November Witton called the delinquent 
West Riding surgeon before him to testify again, though Dodsworth merely held to his 
original story. 83 

Griffiths and his assistants, to discredit the hostile witnesses, accused them of staging a 
riot on the evening of 1 October in which the prisoners unbolted the cell doors along the 
gallery, attacked the prison officers and refused to be confined in their cells, breaking a door 
and a padlock. They allegedly cried out in the assault, ‘we will have no Governour here’, and 
the warders, it was claimed, had to take primed firearms to their rooms with them to sleep. 84 
Though no doubt exaggerated, the incident reveals the anger of some prisoners against their 
gaoler. The coroner, attorney Robert Ward of Howden, presented Petyt as the former 
spokesman of this discontented group. Petyt told him in person, he said, ‘that others who 
had made bolts for him to shoot should for the future shoot ‘em themselves for he would 


78 Deposition of George Whitehouse, 3 October 1741, TNA (PRO), SP 36/57, fol. 7 r . 

79 Affidavits of Batty and Collison, 3 October 1741, ibid., fols. 8 r & 9 r . 

80 Information of William Wiley, 6 November 1741, sworn before Jaques Stern, Mark Braithwait, 
Francis Barlow and Richard Braithwait, ibid., fol. 69 v . 

81 Deposition of James Dodsworth, 3 October 1741, sworn before Jaques Sterne, Doctor of Laws, 
Mark Braithwait Doctor of Laws, Francis Barlow and Richard Braithwait Esqs., Justices of the Peace 
for the West Riding, ibid., fol. 66 r . 

82 Information of Peter Law, 6 November 1741, ibid., fol. 67 v . 

83 Information of James Dodsworth, 27 November 1741, TNA (PRO), ASSI 45 22/2, case of King 
and Griffiths, 15 March 1742, fol. 55A r_v . 

84 Information of Thomas Griffith, Michael Harland, John Foster, John Hartley and John 
Barret , 3 October 1741, TNA (PRO), SP 36/57, fol. IP. 


THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS 


173 


meddle no more with them for they left him the said Petty to bear all the burthen.’ 85 It was 
crucial to the gaoler’s case to show that, despite his being a disaffected and surly man, Petyt 
had been treated with scrupulous fairness. John Hartley, a trusted prisoner and servant to 
Griffith, even claimed that Petyt’s bed had been carried down into the dungeon by Scott, the 
turnkey. Rather incongruously, he also recorded the gaoler’s first response when Petyt asked 
for some straw to lie on, which was the gruff retort that the straw did not belong to the 
prisoners. He gave in general though a highly flattering account of Griffiths’ good intentions 
towards Petyt, and claimed ‘that the said Strong Room is a sweeter and drier room than some 
in the Upper Gaol where debtors now lie.’ 86 As Witton and Dawson had seen the dungeon for 
themselves, this particular falsehood must only have increased their anger over perjured 
testimony and their sense of the manipulative power of the gaoler. 87 Witton’s letter to 
Newcastle was angry and direct: 

Prisoners under the Power and Influence of Goalers may, God knows, be brought to swear 
almost any thing. Of which the present Case I fear will be a remarkable Instance. The vox populi 
runns Strong agt. the Goaler & his Servants, yet as they have the intire Power over the King’s 
Evidence, and must have so, till the Hour of Tryal, I shall not at all wonder to see them Acquit, 
tho’ never so Guilty. 88 

Acquitted they indeed were. In March 1741/2, the case of Rex v. Griffiths was brought 
before York Assizes, the gaoler’s place being held temporarily by the senior Serjeant of the 
Mace, the long-serving George Berry. 89 Griffiths was probably guilty of manslaughter, and 
certainly guilty of great abuse of power, but given the position that he held and the way in 
which the witness depositions conflicted, a conviction was never likely. The charge was 
almost certainly ‘not found’ by the jury, and the case dismissed, though the formal record of 
this does not appear to survive. In March 1742/3, though, Griffiths appears in the records of 
the Assize court, once more a gaoler, ‘of the Castle of York, gent.’, offering recognizances in 
the substantial sum of a hundred pounds for a man accused of perjury. 90 He remained in his 
post until early 1746 when he was dismissed after falling out violently with the York magistrate, 
Dr. Jaques Sterne. 91 At this time, the gaol was crowded by some 227 additional inmates, 
prisoners taken in the still-current Jacobite rebellion. The Archbishop of York, Thomas 
Herring, was a national celebrity for his leadership in forming a militia in York to defend the 
city against the army of the young Pretender, Prince Charles Edward Stuart. Even at the 


85 Affidavit of Robert Ward, 3 October 1741, ibid. 

86 Ibid., fol. 68 r . 

87 See also the evidence of Charles Goodhand, Robert Macklood (sic), Thomas Goldart and John 
Holtby, ibid., fols. 68-70. 

88 R. Witton to Newcastle, 23 November 1741, BL, Add. MSS, 32698, fol. 364 r . 

89 TNA (PRO), ASSI 44/56, NE Circuit Indictments, unfoliated, "15 March 1741/2; Berry and his 
son figure frequently in the York Sheriff’s Court Papers, e.g. YCA, F70, F85, F62, F15. 

90 Assizes Gaol Book, Northeastern Circuit, 1736-62, gaol delivery 7 March 1742/3, TNA (PRO), 
ASSI 41/4. The man was Thomas Hunter, which was also the name of Griffiths’ maternal grandfather, 
so this may have been a relative. 

91 B. R. Hartley, ‘Thomas Griffith of York, “once Governor of the Castle and now a Debtor from 
the same’”, York Historian XI (1994), p. 43; Jonathan Oates, ‘York and the Rebel Prisoners, 1745— 
1752’, York Historian XVII (2000), p. 49. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


height of these stirring events, though, Herring was compelled to complain to his friend and 
patron, Lord Idardwicke, the Lord Chancellor, about the conditions that lay behind the 
baroque elegance of the city’s prison: 

as the assizes draw so near it behoves thejudge that comes the circuit to look to that matter of 
the jail. The prisoners die and the Recorder told me yesterday, when the turnkey opens the cells 
in the morning, the steam and stench is intolerable and scarce credible. The very walls are 
covered with lice in the room over which the Grand Jury sit. 9 " 

In a kind of rough justice, Griffiths himself was later to experience these conditions at 
first hand. By 1750 he was deeply in debt to several creditors, and some time early in the next 
year was confined in his own former prison, where he died in November 1751. Ironically, his 
debts were contracted by greatly over-optimistic borrowing to fund his speculative building 
of houses in Maiygate. His downfall came through the ’polite’ expansion of the town that 
had been spearheaded by the building of his own gaol. 93 

The interest of the Petyt-Griffiths case lies in the light that it sheds on the gulf between 
this expanding polite world of York and the conditions for prisoners within the walls of one 
of the city’s leading buildings. Describing the castle gaol in 1736, Francis Drake, himself a 
surgeon, had commented particularly on the healthy conditions and medical care offered to 
the inmates: 

The justices of peace for this county have of late years taken great care that this goal should 
be as neat and convenient within, as it is noble without; by allowing of straw for the felons, and 
raising their beds which before used to be upon the ground. They have likewise caused an 
infirmary to be built, for the sick to be carried out of the common prison; allowed a yearly salary 
to a surgeon to attend them, and have repaired the castle walls quite round. 94 

The complaints made to Richard Witton and the experience of William Petyt show how 
sanguine such ideas were. Not only did the prisoners not receive the medical assistance paid 
for by the county but even the supposed allowance of straw seems to have been regarded by 
the gaoler as his private property. In the long retrospect of hindsight, the abusive treatment 
of Petyt may not seem to be the most important thing to be noted about conditions in the 
York castle gaol. Historians might claim it as a success for the country’s gentry administrative 
system that the West Riding justices should have shown such active concern for their charges 
held in the prison. They might point out how significant it is that there could be such 
repeated petitions from prisoners; and that the latter could agitate effectively through official 
channels over the fate of a fellow-inmate. 95 Compared with the maltreatment and even torture 
that were commonplace in the Fleet and Marshalsea gaols of London, the conditions in York 
were perhaps less abusive. We should not, though, assume that the ability of prisoners to 
petition the Justices meant that, in the three months between each Quarter Sessions, all was 
well within the gaol or that life there was not unhealthy, uncomfortable and at times dangerous. 


92 Thomas Herring, Archbishop of York, to Philip Yorke, Lord Hardwicke, Bishopthorpe, 14 
February 1746, in Philip Yorke, The Life and Correspondence of Philip Yorke, Earl of Hardwicke, 
Lord High Chancellor of Great Britain (Cambridge, 1913), p. 501. 

93 Hartley, ‘Thomas Griffith of York’, pp. 40-55. 

94 Drake, Eboracum, p. 287. 

95 As, for instance, DeLacy, Prison Reform in Lancashire , pp. 53-4. 


THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS 


175 


Above all, the Petyt case highlights not the contrasts but the similarities between the position 
of prisoners for debt in London and in the country’s leading provincial gaol. Contemporary 
visitors were wrong to take at face value the classical symmetry and apparent roominess of 
the debtors’ prison building. Conditions were no doubt at their worst, and became dangerous 
to health and life, when prisons experienced overcrowding. On the evidence of York in the 
first half of the eighteenth century, though, it would seem that some fundamental underlying 
problems arose from the financial interests and extensive authority of the gaolers. Protests 
at unjust fees and extortion occur in numerous petitions, and the resulting sense of oppression 
and unfairness must have poisoned the lives of many debtors. The unpaid volunteer gentiy 
who filled the offices of Sheriff and Justices of the Peace could exert no close or regular 
control over the regime created by the gaoler and his servants. As the Petyt case shows, even 
the greatest abuses could not, ultimately, be punished, far less prevented. The commercial 
and semi-privatised nature of the prison system gave great scope to the ‘power and influence 
of gaolers’. When an inhumane or greedy man occupied the office, there could be a savage 
contrast between the handsome exterior and fashionable yard of York gaol, and the suffering 
and stench within. 

























Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


177 


DEATH BECOMES HER: THE MOURNING AND 

COMMEMORATION 

OF ELITE WOMEN IN YORKSHIRE, 1720-1860. 

i?pRuth M. Larsen 

The aristocratic way of life was closed tied up to aristocracy’s way of death: for a leading 
member of one generation to die was to advance the dynastic future of the family in the next 
generation, as bereavement reshaped the identities of living and dead. These new identities 
could be shaped by mourning practices, which stressed familial alliances; through the offering 
of consolation to the bereaved, which allowed friends and distant relations to provide support; 
and through commemoration, which allowed the identities of the deceased to be recreated 
and fixed, quite literally, in stone. This article explores these practices by examining the 
experiences of elite women in Yorkshire, and argues that their hew’ identities were shaped 
by the notion of \ aristocratic femininity’, an ideal associated with both their gender and 
their class . 1 

When Lady Elizabeth Lechmere wrote to her father in 1721, ‘I think the loss of those one 
loves is the greatest affliction that can happen in this life’, her comment reflected a common 
response to a family death: sadness at the loss of one that was loved. She was writing following 
the death of her brother-in-law, Rich, fifth Viscount Irwin of Temple Newsam, Leeds, and 
was reflecting on the sorrow of the new widow, her sister Anne. 2 It was expected that 
following the death of a family member an aristocrat would go into mourning and it was 
usual for them to match this formal public act with the private emotion of grief. The death of 
an aristocrat, though, was not just a sad event; it had a range of consequences for the 
immediate family and, possibly, for wider society too. Death was the motor which moved 
aristocratic families forward; it was essential to any new chapter in their dynastic history. 
The death of the male head of the family would lead to a significant change in the titles and 
public identities of various family members. Following the death of an Earl of Carlisle, for 
example, his eldest son and his wife would become the Earl and Countess of Carlisle; he 
would move to the House of Lords, and so would have to give up his parliamentary seat in 
the Commons if he had held one. His son would now hold the courtesy title of Viscount 
Morpeth, and the new widow would become the dowager Countess of Carlisle. Death played 
an important role in shaping the identities of elites. 

This essay explores the impact of death on the public and private identities of elite women 
in eighteenth and nineteenth century Yorkshire. It considers the various practices and 
customs associated with death and their roles in shaping and changing the perceptions of 
individual aristocrats. Responses to a death are explored and the impact of losing a family 

1 The essay on which this article is based was awarded the Yorkshire Society’s Yorkshire History Prize 
for 2005. Many thanks to Elaine Chalus, Allen Warren and Jane Rendall who all read earlier 
versions of it. My thanks are due also to the Hon. Simon Howard of Castle Howard and the 
Directors of the Burton Constable Foundation for allowing me to use their archival collections. 

2 Carlisle MSS, J8/1/356, Elizabeth Lechmere to the third Earl of Carlisle, n.d. [1721]. 


178 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


member is considered through a study of their letters, accounts and other sources . 3 The 
mourning and grieving cultures are also highlighted and the specific roles that these gave 
women are assessed. The creation of new identities for aristocratic women is then discussed, 
with special focus on the composition and creation of memorial items, from formal monuments 
to obituaries, including monuments from Westminster Abbey and York Minster. While 
these actions are by no means confined to elite women in Yorkshire, by exploring the 
actions of a small group of women, mainly from three families residing at Burton Constable, 
near Hull; Castle Howard, near Malton; and Temple Newsam, near Leeds; it is possible to 
gain a wider understanding of the way the elites responded to death. This paper argues that 
death played a central role in the assertion and creation of elite women’s identities at the 
time of a family member’s passing, as well as that of their own death. The reshaping of identities 
due to bereavement was not a phenomenon exclusive to the eighteenth and nineteenth 
centuries, and the reassessment of individuals and their roles following a death can be found in 
many time periods and locales. However, the nature of the identities assigned to people does 
reflect the ideals of the period when the reassignment took place. For this period, those ideals 
for elite women can be described as conforming to ‘aristocratic femininity’, and so the 
posthumous image of a woman was often shaped by both the ideals of wider society and the 
desires of her family, rather then reflecting her own self-defined identity. 

The women of the aristocracy were expected to conform to a distinctive form of femininity, 
although, in practice, very few were able to match the ideals of society. Women in the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries were increasingly expected to be ‘domestic’, concerned 
with the issues of home and family. The virtues of chastity, kindness and humility were ideals 
which could be best fulfilled within the domestic sphere . 4 Domesticity was not simply about 
running the household effectively, but also had emotional qualities. Being devoted to one’s 
family and home life were also important features of the life of the domestic woman. This 
ideal of domesticity was shaped by notions of sentimentality, which had increasing currency 
during the later-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, with writers such as Rousseau, 
whose work was read by many elite women, discussing the values of sentiment and sensibility 


3 Among the studies which have explored the histories of death are: R. Houlbrooke, Death, Religion 
and the Family in England, 1480-1750 (Oxford, 1998); K. S. Guthke, The Gender of Death. A 
Cultural History in Art and Literature (Cambridge, 1999); P.' Metcalf and R. Huntington, 
Celebrations of Death. The Anthropology of Mortuary Ritual, second edition (Cambridge, 1991); P. 
C. Jupp and C. Gittings (eds.), Death in England. An Illustrated History (Manchester, 1999); P. 
Aries, Western Attitudes toward Death: From the Middle Ages to the Present , Trans. P. M. Ranum 
(London, 1976); J. McManners, ‘Death and the French historians’, in Mirrors of Mortality. Studies 
in the Social History of Death, ed. J. Whaley (London, 1981), pp. 106-30; and P. Jalland, Death in 
the Victorian Family (Oxford, 1996). 

4 For studies of the domestic roles of elite women see, among others: J. S. Lewis, In the Family Way. 
Childbearing in the British Aristocracy 1760- 1860 {Slew Brunswick, N.J., 1986); J. Gerard, Country 
House Life, Family and Servants, 1815- 1914 (Oxford, 1994); A. Vickery, The Gentleman’s Daughter. 
Women’s Lives in Georgian England (London, 1998). 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


179 


in their work . 5 Many works from this date idealized the home as the location of ‘felicitous 
sentimental’ domesticity, with the ‘affectionate husband’ and ‘natural mother’ at the centre 
of the narratives . 6 While the social status of elite women and the staff available to them meant 
that it was not necessary for them to take on the workoi the domestic woman, as the ideals 
of domesticity were considered important signifiers of sensibility and femininity it was 
important to be seen as fulfilling the roles of the domestic woman. 

However, it would be erroneous to think that elite women were confined to the private 
sphere/ They were not restricted by a lack of finance or mobility as many women from other 
social classes were, and so were not only able but were expected to have a public role. It 
could be argued that of all women, they had access to the widest opportunities; Joan Perkin 
describes English aristocratic wives of the nineteenth centuiy as ‘the most liberated women 
in Europe ’. 8 Historians such as Elaine Chalus and K. D. Reynolds have examined the important 
role that elite women played in eighteenth-century political society, and their ability to 
become public figures, within certain constraints . 9 The idea that women were nothing more 
than decorative appendages to their politician husbands has been challenged, and their 
influence in the political world, through patterns of patronage and their own efforts in 
philanthropic and social causes, has been demonstrated. These studies have established that 
women could be as influential as their husbands and fathers in the political arena, at 
Westminster, the Court, and in their local communities . 10 Elite women were not just women, 
but aristocrats too; their wealth and class made the real difference in terms of access into 
public life, and so birth overrode gender. As Reynolds notes: ‘In relation to their own 
families and, to an extent, their own class, aristocratic women were first and foremost 


For example, Frances, Viscountess Irwin bought a six volume copy of La Nouvelle Heloise'm 1761 for 
15 shillings; West Yorkshire Archives Service, Leeds [hereafter WYAS], TN/EA/12/18, Bills for Books, 
stationary, etc., Bill to Mrs Ingram from J. Jackson, 1761. Also, the fifth Earl of Carlisle read Sterne’s 
Sentimental Journey{\16Q) in the 1770s, and recommended his wife read it too. See Carlisle MSS,J 15/ 
1/2, Frederick, fifth Earl of Carlisle, to Caroline Carlisle, Paris, [1771-3]. For a discussion of the rise of 
the sentimental in the literature of the period see: G.J. Barker-Benfield, The Culture of Sensibility. Sex 
and Society in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Chicago, 111., 1992), esp. ch. 6; J. Mullan, Sentiment and 
Sociability The Language of Feeling in the Eighteenth Century (Oxford, 1988); J. Brewer, The Pleas- 
ures of the Lmagination: English Culture in the Eighteenth Century { London, 1997). 

6 Brewer, The Pleasures of the Lmagination, pp. 114-22, esp. p. 116. 

7 The most influential work on separate spheres is L. Davidoff and C. Hall, Family Fortunes: Men 
and Women of the English Middle Class 1780-1850 \ revised edn (London, 2002). For the subsequent 
debates on this issue see, for example: H. Barker and E. Chalus, ‘Introduction’, in Gender in 
Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations and Responsibilities , ed. H. Barker and E. 
Chalus (London, 1997), p. 18; L. Kerber, ‘Separate spheres, female worlds, woman’s place: the 
rhetoric of women’s history’, Journal of American Historylb (1988), 9-39; J. Rendall, ‘Women and 
the public sphere’, Gender and History 11 (1999), 475-488. A. Vickery, ‘The Golden Age to separate 
spheres? A review of the categories and chronology of English women’s history’, The Historical 
Journal 36 (1993), 383-404. 

H J. Perkin, Women and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century England (London, 1989), p. 5. 

9 See, for example: E. Chalus, ‘ Elite Woman in English Political Life, c. 1754-1 790, (Oxford, 2005) 

10 Other studies of elite political women include: K. Gleadle and S. Richardson (eds.), Women in 
British Politics, 1760-1860: the Power of the Petticoat (London, 2000); J. S. Lewis, Sacred to Female 
Patriotism: Gender, Class and Politics in Late Georgian Britain (London, 2003); S. Richardson, 
‘The role of women in electoral politics in Yorkshire during the eighteen-thirties’, Northern History 
32(1996), 133-51; A. Vickery (ed.), Women, Privilege, and Power: British Politics, 1750 to the Present 
(Stanford, Calif. 2001). 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


women. In relation to the rest of the world, they were aristocrats first and last’. 11 This meant 
that aristocratic femininity had to take into account both their public and private roles. 
Along with being virtuous wives, mothers and siblings, elite women were also expected to be 
active within the family in their duties as aristocrats. They were an important and active part 
of the political and social networks of elite society, through which families and individuals 
could seek preferment, grant patronage, and gain power locally, nationally and internationally. 
Women of the upper classes therefore needed to be demure and persuasive, dynastic and 
domestic. These concerns shaped their social identity - they were to be both aristocratic 
and feminine. 

MOURNING 

The importance of both the aristocratic and the feminine shaped elite responses to 
bereavement. Following the death of a loved one, the elite woman of the eighteenth and 
nineteenth centuries was expected to mourn, and was likely to grieve. Mourning is a cultural 
rather than a psychological phenomenon, and often reflects a communal response of 
sympathy; for the bereaved, it can act as a formalization of the emotive sorrow of grief. 12 
Women of all classes were especially associated with mourning and grief in this period in a 
number of cultures across Western Europe. They often featured as mourners in artistic 
representations of death, especially in the late-eighteenth and early-nineteenth centuries, 
and they were increasingly identified as the mourners and grievers of society. 13 They were 
believed to be more prone to extreme grief than men, because it was thought that they lacked 
‘reason’, and so were unable to restrain their sorrow. For those who did not need to earn a 
living, their roles as ‘domestic women’ meant that they were often more sensitive to the 
absence of the deceased within the home setting, and so were therefore likely to be more 
aware of the impact of their loss. Wealthy women had the time to partake in the lengthy 
mourning rituals; unlike their husbands, who often needed to continue in public life, wives 
could pass their duties on to their servants, and luxuriate in woe. 

While mourning was undertaken across the social spectrum, mourning had an important 
ceremonial significance for aristocratic families, as it could both affirm ties of kinship and 
signify allegiance. 14 There were common patterns of behaviour for mourning, although the 
details were often confused and changed according to fashion; for example, when Queen 
Caroline, wife of George II, died in 1737, there was great debate among the peers about the 
extent to which they should go into mourning. 15 Within families, the length of time for 
mourning was also often uncertain. Although it was generally understood that one should 
withdraw from Society life for at least a year, if not two, for an immediate relative the length 


11 Reynolds, Aristocratic Women , p. 4. 

12 E. Schor, Bearing the Dead. The British Culture of Mourning from the Enlightenment to Victoria 
(Princeton, N.J., 1994), pp. 3-4; A. Olberding, ‘Mourning, memory, and identity: a comparative 
study of the constitution of the self in grief’, International Philosophical Quarterly 37 (1997), 29-30. 

13 E. Hallam and J. Hockey, Death, Memory and Material Culture (Oxford, 2001), p. 69; L. 
McCray Beier, ‘The good death in seventeenth century England’, in Death, Ritual and Bereave- 
ment , ed. R. Houlbrooke (London, 1989), p. 46. 

14 R. Trumbach, The Rise of the Egalitarian Family Aristocratic Kinship and Domestic Relations in 
Eighteenth-Century England (New York, N.Y., 1978), p. 34. 

15 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Fifteenth Report, Appendix, Part 6: the Manuscripts of the 
Earl of Carlisle, formerly Preserved at Castle Howard , ed. R. E. G. Kirk (London, 1897), p. 190. 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


181 


of time for cousins and uncles was often confused, needing a Mrs Delany-like figure in each 
family in order to guide them. 16 Mourning, therefore, could be a long and lonely affair, 
although lesser relations often discarded mourning dress for important social occasions. 17 
These official practices of mourning would have had a significant impact on the identity of 
an individual. It was not only possibly detrimental to the bereaved, as a year or two in black 
limited the opportunities to be treated as a normal individual and thus to accept their loss, 
but it also impacted on their public identity as they were perceived as a mourner, rather than 
as a political confidant, hostess, or mother. 18 

The nature of the life of the female aristocrat, though, often meant that mourning did not 
prevent their work in forwarding the family, and was rarely enclosing. Women often fell 
pregnant when they traditionally should have been in mourning, especially if it was a child 
who had died, and some remarriages took place during the year of mourning. Lady Mary 
Barbara Chichester, for example, gave birth to her son, Thomas, ten months after her first 
child, Isabella, died in 1827; and the second marriage of Henry, fourth Earl of Carlisle, took 
place eleven months after the death in July 1742 of his first wife, Frances. Mourning practices 
did not always make a significant impact on provincial life, as mourning was often a show for 
the Metropolis. Women could therefore still entertain within the country house setting, and 
were still expected to run the household and family. Coming together as a family was one of 
the main leisure activities of elite women in the provinces, and mourning did not significantly 
alter this aspect of their social life. Within collections of letters to and from Yorkshire elites, 
there is a notable absence of evidence of the mourning practice of removing one’s self from 
society for years on end. For example, the children of Georgiana, fifth Duchess of Devonshire, 
do not appear to have entered a year of seclusion from Society following her death in 1806. 
Her son wrote of his plans for the month of the first anniversary of the death, noting that he 
did ‘not intend to go out on the gay at all in this mellancholy month’, suggesting that he had 
been ‘on the gay’ in the previous weeks. 19 Formal ideals of mourning, if followed at all, appear 
to have been a simple addition to their daily life, not worthy of comment and not so restrictive 
that their life was significantly altered. 

BEREAVEMENT 

While mourning may have had a limited impact on the lives of elites, the effects of 
bereavement may have greatly altered the roles, responsibilities and identities of an elite 
woman. The death of a husband was the most significant bereavement in this regard: at 

16 Mary Delany, nee Granville (1700-88), was a well-connected court favourite and artist whose 
many letters contained advice regarding etiquette, appropriate behaviour and other issues of social 
decorum, which were relied upon by her relatives and friends. Trumbach, Rise of the Egalitarian 
Family , pp. 35-40. 

I7 L. Davidoff, The Best Circles. Society and Etiquette and the Season (London, 1973), p. 56. The 
nature of formal mourning in the eighteenth century has not been subject to a wide ranging survey, 
and so the common practices have not been clearly defined. By the nineteenth century a mourning 
period of two years was expected for a spouse, and one year following the death of a parent or a 
child. R Jalland, ‘Death, grief, and mourning in the upper-class family, 1860-1914’, in Death, Ritual 
and Bereavement , ed. R. Houlbrooke (London, 1989), p. 183. 

ltt D. Cannadine, ‘War and death, grief and mourning in modern Britain’, in Mirrors of Mortality 
Studies in the Social History of Death, ed.J. Whaley (London, 1981), p. 190. 

19 Devonshire MSS, Letters of the fifth Duke of Devonshire, 1926, Lord Hartington to Georgiana 
Morpeth, 20 March 1807. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


widowhood a woman may have gained independence and been enabled to control her own 
income assured by the terms of her marriage settlement. 20 However, for those who enjoyed 
a close and happy relationship with their late spouse and had enjoyed free access to ‘his’ 
money, this was little comfort, especially if she had to leave her home to make space for the 
new Lord (usually her son) and his family. These potential problems, though, could be 
negotiated if there were an affectionate family circle to support the bereaved. The case of 
Lady Anne Irwin (1697-1764) reflects the importance of a supportive family for a widow, 
and the significant changes that could be brought about by the death of a spouse. Anne was 
the second daughter of Charles, the third Earl of Carlisle, builder of Castle Howard, near 
Malton, in the North Riding. The building reflected Charles’s ambitions for himself and for 
the Carlisle name. It was designed to be an impressive edifice to which he could bring and 
then entertain the most powerful and influential people in England in order to assert and 
improve his own status. 21 His ambitions spread to Anne and his other daughters, whom he 
wished to be successful allies in his plans to enhance the position of the Carlisles. Political 
networking, holding positions in Court, and forming friendships with other influential 
aristocrats were all ways in which elite women could work towards supporting the future 
plans of an aristocratic family. For many, though, their strongest suit in forming enduring 
relationships was in their choice of spouse; it was by marriage that women could introduce 
into a family close and secure allies. When Castle Howard was being decorated Carlisle 
arranged for the artist Antonio Pellegrini to paint a large portrait of Anne and her sisters, 
Mary and Elizabeth. The three are portrayed identically, and the differences in their 
personalities and ages were not alluded to. They were aged between eleven and seventeen 
years at the time of painting, but all are portrayed as though they were just on the cusp of 
maturity. 22 By presenting his daughters as identikit ideal young women, singing and playing 
music, Carlisle appears to be creating an advertisement for their marriageablity while stressing 
that even if one were taken, one of the others would prove to be a perfect replacement. 

In spite of Carlisle’s high hopes, Anne and her sisters did not provide him with Dukes and 
Earls for sons-in-law. Mary did not marry at all, which Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, 


20 For a discussion of the financial status of widows see: S. Staves, Married Women’s Separate 
Property in England, 1660- 1833 (Cambridge, Mass., 1990). Other texts of interest include: I. Blom. 
‘The history of widowhood - a bibliographic overview’. Journal of Family History 16 (1991), 191-210; 
essays in L. Botelho and P. Thane (eds.) Women and Ageing in British Society Since 1500. (London, 
2001); M. Froide, ‘Marital status as a category of difference. Singlewomen and widows in early 
modern England’, Singlewomen in the European Past, 1250-1800, ed. J. M. Bennett and A. M. 
Froide (Philadelphia, Pa., 1999), pp. 236-69; O. Hufton. ‘Women without men: widows and spin- 
sters in Britain and France in the eighteenth century’ .Journal of Family History 9 (1984), 355-76; 
M. Palazzi, ‘Female solitude and patrilineage: unmarried women and widows during the eighteenth 
and nineteenth centuries’, Journal of Family History 15 (1990), 443-460. 

21 The most complete survey of the architectural history of Castle Howard is C. Saumarez Smith, 
The Building of Castle Howard (London, 1990), based on his unpublished thesis, ‘Charles Howard, 
third Earl of Carlisle, and the architecture of Castle Howard’, PhD Thesis, University of London, 
Warburg Institute, 1987. See also K. Dowes, Sir John Vanbrugh. A Biography (London, 1987), p. 197. 
For a discussion of Vanbrugh’s role in design landscapes see the essays in C. Ridgway and R. 
Williams (eds.), Sir John Vanbrugh and Landscape Architecture in Baroque England 1690-1730 
(Stroud, 2000). For a history of the family see the various guidebooks and V. Murray, Castle Howard: 
the Life and Times of A Stately Home (London, 1994). 

22 The portrait was painted between 1709-1712; Saumarez Smith, The Building of Castle Howard, 
pp. 94-104. 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


183 


blamed on the small dowry provided by Carlisle, but Mary’s tendency toward, and enjoyment 
of, ill health could not have helped either. 23 Elizabeth was eighteen when she married Nicholas, 
Baron Lechmere in 1719, which was not welcomed by Carlisle. When her father told Elizabeth 
that he disapproved of the match, she reminded him that he had given her ‘liberty to doe [sic] 
as I pleased, and if my Grandmother would act in it, you should not be disobliged’. 24 She 
worked to gain her grandmother’s acceptance and so her father eventually consented to the 
marriage; she was granted a portion of £6,000 and a yearly £800 for her jointure. 25 This 
marriage was very unhappy, though. Nicholas Lechmere was described by his nephew as ‘an 
excellent lawyer, but violent and overbearing’, and so Elizabeth appears to have taken to 
gambling and drink as a way of escaping her daily life. 26 In February 1726 she deliberately 
took a large dose of laudanum, but failed to kill herself; Lady Mary Wortley Montagu wrote: 
‘after having played away her reputation and fortune, she has poisoned herself. This is the 
effect of prudence!’ 2 ' It was Nicholas’ death that ended the marriage, dying after a fit of 
‘apoplexy’ at his London residence, Campden House, Kensington, on 18 June 1727. 28 

It was therefore Anne who offered Carlisle the greatest hope by marrying in 1718 Rich 
Ingram (1688-1721) who in 1714 had become the fifth Viscount Irwin, inheriting the title 
and the Temple Newsam estate from his unmarried elder brother. While Rich was not the 
most influential of potential suitors for Anne, with estates in Yorkshire, familial control of 
the Parliamentary seat of Horsham, Sussex, and ownership of a regiment, the match had 
some dynastic potential for Carlisle. While Rich and Anne’s marriage appears to have been 
a happy one, on a practical level, they did not enjoy great fortune. He had invested in the 
‘cruel South Sea’, paying £40,000 for £10,000 worth of stock that was never recovered. 29 
The Irwins had been indebted for some time and this loss was too much for their weak 
fortune to bear. Rich and Anne considered leaving the country for Barbados where he had 
been offered the Governorship, which was worth £5,000 a year. This was a move which 
Anne did not desire, as she did not want to lose contact with her family, but was willing to 
accept as part of her duty as a wife, and to enable her to fulfil her roles as Viscountess Irwin. 30 
However Anne’s plans for a new life in the West Indies were put on hold when Rich contracted 
small pox in April 1721 and died. Flis death put Anne into a position of great distress, 


23 G. Scott Thomson (ed.), Letters of a Grandmother 1732-35. Being the Correspondence of Sarah, 
Duchess of Marlborough with her granddaughter Diana, Duchess of Bedford (London, 1943), p. 58. 

24 Carlisle MSS, J8/1/308, Elizabeth Howard to the third Earl of Carlisle, n.d. It is not clear why her 
grandmother was given such an important say in this event, but it may be that she acted in a 
maternal role after Charles’s wife left him. 

2j Carlisle MSS, A5/52, Articles on the marriage of the Rt. Hon. Nicholas Lechmere Esq., with the 
Rt. Hon. Elizabeth Howard, 11 April 1719. 

26 DNB entry for Nicholas Lechmere; Saumarez Smith, The Building of Castle Howard, pp. 186-7. 

27 M. W. Montagu, The Complete Letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, ed. R. Halsband, 3 vols 
(Oxford, 1965-7) ii, p. 58. 

2H A. A. Hanham, ‘Lechmere, Nicholas, Baron Lechmere (1675-1727)’, Oxford Dictionary of Na- 
tional Biography , Oxford University Press, 2004. After Lord Lechmere’s death she married again, 
Sir Thomas Robinson, the second architect of Castle Howard, who was very controlling of his wife. 

29 Carlisle MSS, J8/1/124, Mary Howard to the third Earl of Carlisle, 21 February [1721], 

30 Historical Manuscripts Commission, Fifteenth Report, Appendix, Part 6: the Manuscripts of the 
Earl of Carlisle, formerly Preserved at Castle Howard, Ed. R.E.G. Kirk (London, 1897), p. 25; 
Carlisle MSS, J8/1/169, Anne Irwin to the third Earl of Carlisle, 17 November 1720. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


emotionally, financially and practically. She wrote to her father: 

Your Lordship knew my happiness in the dear man thats gone that you won’t wonder to hear Line 
in sincere affliction for him ... time can only make me easie [but] at present I’me so unhappy all the 
views I have in this world are very melancholy [sic]. 31 

Anne’s reflections on her affection for her husband show how she felt personally bereaved 
at his death. They had no children and had been married less than three years; she was not 
expecting to become a widow yet and had not had the opportunity to fulfil many of her roles 
as an elite wife. Her natal family were greatly concerned for her well-being after the death, 
and they came to support her both in the immediate aftermath of her loss, and in the later 
years, reflecting the supportive nature of many elite families. She was described as ‘the 
picture of sorrow’ by her sister Mary who sat with her all day, every day, during the month 
following her bereavement. 32 Although she was physically healthy, she suffered greatly from 
her loss, feeling ‘so dejected and mallencholly [sic] that we sometimes sit a whole day together 
without her speaking or caring to be spoken too’. 33 

Along with her grief came financial worries. The indebted Rich had left neither a will nor 
much readily accessible money; she used what she had to pay servants and her immediate 
bills and still she faced requests from family and friends for payments of outstanding debts, 
mainly gambling dues and other loans. In the days following the death she had received a 
thousand pounds from the Crown, part of the £7000 that was due to her as Rich had bought 
a regiment. However, this money was quickly spent and Anne had no money left to cover her 
own expenses, even the cost of travel back to her father’s home at Castle Howard. 34 Those 
who were owed money were keen to have it repaid swiftly, as they feared they would never 
get anything back if they had to wait for the estate to be settled. Anne was now one of three 
dowager Viscountess Irwin alive in the 1720s, and, in the eyes of the Ingram family, probably 
the least important. Rich’s mother, Isabella, the dowager Viscountess Irwin (c. 1670-1764) 
was made executor of the estate, as she had been for her elder son, the fourth Viscount. 35 
The estate was already heavily mortgaged when Rich inherited it, and so his gambling debts 
and bad investments had placed the finances under a real strain. Isabella needed to identify 
everything that belonged to the estate, so that she could assess and tiy to remedy the financial 
situation. However, Anne had taken items from Temple Newsam that she believed were hers 
but Isabella claimed to be part of the estate. 36 Isabella also pressed the Carlisle family hard to 
pay money that was due to the Irwin estate as part of Anne’s marriage settlement, a problem 
that was not resolved for many years. Anne fought staunchly against Isabella’s requests, 
demanding to keep various items, at least for her lifetime, and ensuring that the Carlisles 
were not financially affected by Rich’s death. While Rich was alive the relationship between 

31 Carlisle MSS, J8/1/127, Mary Howard to the third Earl of Carlisle, London, 13 April [1721]; 
Carlisle MSS, J8/1/128, Mary Howard to the third Earl of Carlisle, London, 23 April [1721]. 

32 Ibid. 

33 Carlisle MSS, J8/1/128, Mary Howard to the third Earl of Carlisle, London, 23 April [1721]. 

34 Ibid 

35 The other dowager Viscountess was Elizabeth, Isabella’s sister-in-law, and wife of the second 
Viscount Irwin. Her child had died young, and she too was seen as an expensive drain that the 
family could ill afford. All three dowagers lived to over 65 years of age. 

36 She eventually returned or paid for most items, although she kept a portrait of Rich for her 
lifetime. WYAS, Leeds, TN/C/13/37, R. Hopkinson to Isabella Irwin, 29 January 1723/4. 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


185 


the two Lady Irwins was difficult. When Isabella was encouraged by her steward to make 
peace with Rich and Anne, she dismissed his request as ‘friendly advice to give up my just 
wit to an ungrateful son, wholly governed by the proud family of the Howards who have 
never served anybody but for their own interest’. 37 His death meant that the only thing which 
united them had been removed. Anne and Isabella, two widows, came into direct conflict 
and were shown to have a great deal of power to manage the negotiations in order to get what 
they and their families wanted. However, without children of her own, Anne lacked a 
distinctive ‘use’ to the family - she was merely a financial drain. Her in-laws were therefore 
able to reject her and her wishes, and act with sole concern for the Irwin family future. 

Anne had not only experienced the death of her husband, but also the death of her future. 
Her plans for a life as Viscountess Irwin, chatelaine of Temple Newsam, and the mother to 
the next Lord Irwin had been taken away, and she was now, in effect, a single woman again. 
With the death of Rich, Anne not only lost a significant part of her own identity, but also her 
place within the dynastic plans of the Irwin family. She was forced to return to her natal 
family, who supported her in her grief, and continued to do so in her widowhood and with 
her problems with Isabella. Anne appears to have had limited contact with the Ingrams after 
1721, with the exception of Charles, Rich’s younger brother who had been part of Anne’s 
letter writing circle during her marriage and later helped her in planning her second marriage 
in 1737. 38 Anne was an Irwin only in name after her widowhood; she was in practice a 
Howard again, and it was their concerns which were at the heart of her later career in the 
Royal Court. 39 

Anne’s negative experiences following her bereavement were more marked and harsh 
than those faced by most women following the death of a spouse. For many, especially those 
who were mothers, their new identity as dowager could be more positive. Georgiana, sixth 
Countess of Carlisle (1783-1858) continued to reside at Castle Howard following the death 
of her husband in 1848. Their eldest son George, now the seventh Earl of Carlisle, was 
unmarried and in terms of her official functions within Castle Howard, Georgiana continued 
as chatelaine. George wrote of their partnership as being like a successful marriage, and 
while Georgiana’s declining health meant she did not play as active a role in society as she 
once had as Countess, her status and domestic identity were not altered by the death of her 
husband. 40 Women could be positively empowered by their position as widow. Frances, the 
ninth Viscountess Irwin (1734-1807) was widowed in 1778, and as part of her marriage 
settlement, she inherited a life interest in Temple Newsam before it passed on to her daughters; 
she and her husband, Charles, had no sons. 41 As the wealthy illegitimate daughter and heiress 
of Samuel Shepherd M.P., Frances had brought a great deal of wealth into the Ingram family 
and had been able to repay their mortgages and other debts. Therefore, once in control of 
the house and estate in her own right, she was not hindered by any financial concerns. She 

37 WYAS, Leeds, Pawson MSS, Ac 1038, Volume 9 (January 1717-December 1747), Robert Hopkinson 
to Isabella Irwin, 13 December 1718. 

38 Carlisle MSS, J8/1/284, Anne Irwin to third Earl of Carlisle, 7 June [1737]. 

39 E.g. Carlisle MSS, J8/1/257, Anne Irwin to the third Earl of Carlisle, 3 April, n.y.; HMC, 
Fifteenth Report, the Manuscripts of the Earl of Carlisle, pp. 165-92. 

40 Carlisle MSS, J 18/3, Seventh Earl’s correspondence with his mother; 19 February 1855 and 30 
December 1852. 

41 WYAS Leeds, TN/F/18/2, Marriage Settlement between Charles and Frances Irwin. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


radically redesigned Temple Newsam in order to accommodate her family and their needs. 
The changes that she made included both practical improvements and embellishments for 
the purpose of display. While her husband was alive she had made the Tudor interiors more 
fashionable, redecorating, for example, her bedroom with Gothic style ‘pillar and arch’ 
wallpaper. She also employed Capability Brown to landscape the park, thereby reasserting 
the public face of the house and promoting the family as fashionable, wealthy and influential 
members of the Yorkshire elite. 42 After her husband’s death, her work continued. She 
demolished most of the south wing, which featured an old, medieval-style hall and kitchens, 
and rebuilt it with a series of reception rooms, dressing rooms and, most importantly, 
bedrooms for her five daughters. 43 She wrote: 

I amuse myself wonderfully and I may say prodigiously for I have attacked a huge wing of 
Templenewsam [sic] - have pulled down walls as thick as the Tower for the sole pleasure of building 
them up again and here I am now in the midst of desolation created by my own nonsensical self. 14 

She was free to change the house and its environment as she wished; she did not have to gain 
permission from a husband but could knock down the walls of her home for pleasure. 
Frances was not simply a figurehead for the building work but took an active role in the 
decisions and appears to have managed the building accounts herself. 43 Her work at Temple 
Newsam was centred on making the house a home, a comfortable, domestic location, ideal 
for raising her five daughters. However, she was also aware of the dynastic role of the house, 
as a symbol of the family name. She appreciated the importance of a fashionable house and 
landscape in reflecting her own status in local and national society, and by reshaping her 
home into a modern stately home she was able to raise and refashion both its and her own 
identities. 

However, it was her political identity that was most strengthened by her widowhood. 
Frances was concerned that the ‘family interest’ was maintained during both her marriage 
and her widowhood, taking a keen interest in politics, especially at the family seat of Horsham, 
Sussex. 46 She fought to keep direction of votes in the borough when the eleventh Duke of 
Norfolk threatened her control of the seat after Charles had died. Although Norfolk had 
both influence and wealth, spending £70,000 on the borough, it is a testament to Frances’s 
determination and petitioning skills that he had to use corrupt means to win the elections. 
However, she successfully appealed against the results, and had her candidates seated in 
both the 1790 and 1806 contests against Norfolk. He gained control of the borough only 
after her death when he bought the Irwin interest for the record sum of £91,475. 4/ Her 
determination to keep part of the family’s dynastic influence in their control reflects how 


42 Unattributed, Temple Newsam (Leeds, 1999), p. 14 

43 A. Wells-Cole, ‘The Terrace Room at Temple Newsam’, in Leeds Art Calendar 108 (1991), pp. 15- 
16. See also A. Budge, ‘Temple Newsam and “the Good Shepheard’s”’, in Leeds Art Calendar 98 
(1986), 8-15. 

44 PRO 30/29/4/2/54, Frances Shepheard to Lady Stafford, 14 June 1795. 

45 WYAS, Leeds, TN/EA/13/70, Building Account for Temple Newsam, 1795-1803. 

46 The history of the Ingram family in Horsham is the subject of A. F. Hughes and K. Knight, Hills. 
Horsham ’s Lost Stately Home and Garden (Horsham, 1999). 

47 E. Chalus, ‘Women, electoral privilege and practice in the eighteenth century’, in Women in 
British Politics, 1760-1860 : The Power of the Petticoat, ed. K. Gleadle and S. Richardson (London, 
2000), pp. 28-9. 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


187 


important issues of inheritance and maintaining political power were to such women, and 
her willingness to be seen as the political figurehead of the family. In her wider political and 
social positions, widowhood had empowered Frances and enabled her to work openly in 
political and architectural roles that she would have previously shared with her husband. 

CONSOLATION 

It was not only the death of a spouse that could have a significant impact on the identity of 
the living, but of other relatives too. People grieved not only for the individual lost, but also 
for their plans with that person, and this is an important consideration when studying 
aristocratic families, particularly in relation to an untimely death of an heir. When the eldest 
son of the fourth Earl of Carlisle fell ill in 1741, his family were greatly concerned, and hoped 
for improvement, as ‘his life [is] most essential to your happiness and my Ladies and the 
support and credit of our family’. 48 The use of the term ‘credit’ reflects the inherent value of 
having a viable heir, not just in terms of the image of the family but also their worth. His 
death later that year was therefore considered a real tragedy for the Howard family, and the 
family mourned together. Charles, Lord Morpeth, had been groomed for the Earldom, and 
his potential had been cut short through his early death. Like the death of a husband early in 
a marriage, so the death of an heir represented lost opportunities and unfulfilled plans. The 
loss of an heir could herald the death of the dynasty too, a demise more significant than that 
of an individual, but the end of an ideal that had been nurtured and shaped for many years. 

There was often a shared sense of grief, and so friends and family provided comfort to the 
bereaved, giving them the opportunity to stress their links with the family and present a joint 
dynastic identity. When Caroline, fifth Countess of Carlisle, died in 1824 her husband was 
anxious to have his family near to him, requesting that those children who were away from 
Castle Howard returned to their childhood home. 49 Families could offer practical support to 
one another, which was especially useful to women who may have lost their home and were 
in need of support looking after their children. Following the death of Sir Charles Chichester 
in 1847, his sister invited the widow to be with her family at Burton Constable so that they 
could ‘do all we can to try and make you feel less acutely your sorrow’. 50 Women often played 
a leading role in offering assistance. Lady Caroline Lascelles, for example, looked after her 
brother Charles Howard in 1843 after his wife died in childbirth; the child went into the 
care of his maternal grandparents. 51 However, it may have been family friends who provided 
comfort from afar. Ralph Sneyd, for example, wrote that he was happy to listen to Lady 
Georgiana Dover’s sorrows following the death of her husband, George, in 1833; George 
and Ralph had been friends for many years. 52 Friends and family could share in the community 
of grief, and support those in need. 


48 Carlisle MSS, J12/1/51, Anne Irwin, Kew, to Henry Howard, fourth Earl of Carlisle, 27 June 
[1741?]. 

49 Devonshire MSS, Letters of the sixth Duke of Devonshire, 904, Georgiana Morpeth to sixth Duke 
of Devonshire, 29 January 1824 

50 Brynmor Jones Library, Charles Chichester MSS, DDCH/55, Letters of condolence following Sir 
Charles Chichester’s death, Marianne Clifford Constable to Mary Chichester, 14 May 1847. 

51 Northumberland Record Office, Ridley Mss, ZRI/31/30, Georgiana Carlisle, Castle Howard, to 
Lady Parke, 30 August 1843. 

52 Keele University Library, Sneyd MSS, SC9/247, Mr Ralph Sneyd to Georgiana Dover, n.d. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


The importance of support at times of crisis is reflected in the contents of condolence 
letters, many of which offered practical advice, expressed religious ideas as a form of comfort, 
and contained personal expressions of sorrow. Pat Jalland has argued that the condolence 
letter was an important source of strength to the grieving family in the nineteenth century, as 
it offered both practical and emotional assistance, and ensured that the bereaved did not feel 
alone. 53 The letters also provided a way for elites to become an active part of the culture of 
mourning and to express their allegiance with the bereaved. While non-related peers were 
expected to go into mourning after the death of a member of the Royal family, it was usual for 
only the family to wear full mourning dress following the death of an aristocrat. Friends and 
acquaintances therefore needed to find other ways of expressing their (real or tactical) 
sadness at the loss and of reasserting their linking with a family in mourning. Condolence 
letters were often formal and followed widely accepted conventions. They usually focused 
on the bereaved rather than the deceased, containing phrases such as ‘I can find no words to 
express to you what I feel for you’. 54 For example, in 1715, Anthoinette Coyer heard erroneous 
reports that Rich Irwin had died in battle, and wrote to Rich’s mother to ‘express my heart 
breaking sorrow for the death of your honourable son’. 55 Consolatory writings also often 
used the language of religion, especially from the Bible, and tried to offer comfort by alluding 
to the vulnerability of life. Popular biblical sources included St. Paul, Revelation, Job or 
Timothy, giving the writer a template for acceptable and managed sentiments. 56 For those 
who had a strong faith, the letters focused on a shared faith in the lasting support of God as 
a way of providing comfort to the grieving, a practice which was by no means exclusive to 
the aristocracy. This was especially prevalent in Roman Catholic families, such as the 
Constables of Burton Constable. Following the death of Eliza Chichester in 1859, her sister, 
Lady Marianne Clifford Constable, received many supportive letters that used powerful 
religious imagery. Their cousin, Mary Lucy, a nun, reminded Marianne that while: ‘it is not 
in the power of human consent to assuage such grief as yours ... thank God we have a higher source 
to draw from for consolation in the very bitterest sorrow.’ 57 By sending out these letters, elites 
were restating their alliance with a family, on personal, social, dynastic and/or political 
levels, and maintaining their own elite identity. 

These ties could also be reaffirmed through the owning and wearing of mourning jewellery. 58 
Unlike full mourning dress, jewellery could be worn by wider family and friends as a way of 
publicly asserting private sorrow, or stating public alliances. As well as jewellery owned by 
the deceased, items were specially made to commemorate their death, and both were 
exchanged and worn in the period of mourning as well as becoming lasting forms of memorial. 

53 Jalland, ‘Death, grief, and mourning’, p. 181. 

54 For example, Brynmor Jones Library, Charles Chichester MSS, DDCH/55, Letters of condolence 
following Sir Charles Chichester’s death, Marianne Clifford Constable to Mary Chichester, 14 May 
1847. 

55 WYAS, Leeds, TN/C/12, Letters to Rich, Anthoinette Coyer to Isabella Irwin, 20 March 1714/5. 

56 For a discussion of consolatory writings see A. Carrdus, ‘Consolation arguments and maternal 
grief in seventeenth-century verse - the example of Margarethe Susanna Von Kuntsch’, German 
Life and Letters 47 (1994), esp. 135-7. 

57 East Riding of Yorkshire Archive and Record Service, Beverley [hereafter ERYARS], DDCC/144/ 
33, Letters to Marianne Clifford Constable, Mary Lucy Clifford de S.S. Sacramento to Lady 
Clifford Constable, 1 November 1859. 

58 For mourning jewellery see A. L. Luthi, Sentimental Jewellery: Antique Jewels of Love and Sorrow 
(Princes Risborough, 1998). 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


189 


Funerary jewellery had become increasingly popular between the seventeenth and nineteenth 
centuries, and during this period, its purpose changed. The memento mori, which reminded 
one to be fearful of death, became increasingly unfashionable. Instead jewellery increasingly 
remembered the dead; it was now memento illius, and could act as a ‘vehicle of memory’. 59 
The inclusion of the hair of the deceased within later eighteenth-century jewellery meant 
that the item acted as a ‘substitute for the body’; hair, which during the life of a person is 
often considered dead, was considered to come alive after their death. 60 In the nineteenth 
century hair was believed to escape death, as the most ‘delicate and lasting of our materials 
and survives us like love’. 61 Jewellery and miniatures were not just simple objects. They had 
strong emotions, such as memory, reverence and awe, ‘super-added’ to them, and thus became 
powerful symbols of grief. 62 

In some cases, the wearing of this jewellery could assert an elite woman’s identity. The 
wearing of a miniature of a deceased child, for example, meant that the wearer was stating 
her relationship to the child and her role as a parent, grandparent or sibling. The miniature 
of the two Lascelles boys, Algernon and Alfred, sons of the third Earl and Countess of 
Harewood, appears to have been in use after their death in 1845, as the dates of their birth 
and death were engraved on the back of the piece; its survival indicates its importance as the 
last image of the boys. The wearing of a miniature could be a powerful statement if the death 
of the individual depicted had caused a shift of familial alliances; jewellery allowed people to 
align themselves with the dead. Following the death of Georgiana, the fifth Duchess of 
Devonshire in 1806, her widowed husband swiftly married his long term mistress, Lady 
Elizabeth Foster, who had not only borne him children while his wife was alive, but had 
shared their family home, wife, husband and mistress together. Georgiana’s children were 
not welcoming of the public formalization of this relationship, as they were devoted to their 
mother, and wanted to protect her status. However, they were reluctant to snub openly their 
father, whom they seem to have respected; it was Elizabeth whom they disliked. So, they 
expressed their continued support of their deceased mother in subtle and nuanced ways. 
The eldest child, Georgiana, later sixth Countess of Carlisle, had acquired her mother’s ring 
following her death, and was reluctant to part with it: ‘I would not exchange mine for any - she 
wore it till her Death and I feel that I shall till mine’. 61 Also, among the collection of paintings at 
Chatsworth is one of Georgiana holding a miniature of her deceased mother. 64 She was 
portrayed as the loyal daughter, with such a strong devotion to her mother that she wanted 
to emphasize by providing a lasting image of her grief. The commissioning of the portrait 
expresses her strong desire to mark her individual and continued remembrance of her 
mother, and to ensure that all knew she had not and would not forget the ‘true’ fifth Duchess 

' 9 P. Aries, The Hour of Our Death, trans. H. Weaver (Harmondsworth, 1981), pp. 461-2 

60 Hal lam and Hockey, Death, Memory and Material Culture , p. 136. 

61 Quoted from Godey’s Lady Book (1860), in L. Taylor, Mourning Dress. A Costume and Social 
History (London, 1983), p. 243. 

62 This argument is developed in M. Pointon, ‘Materializing mourning: hair, jewellery and the 
body’, in Material Memories, ed. M. Kwint, C. Breward and J. Aynsely (Oxford, 1999), p. 43. 

63 Devonshire MSS, Letters of the fifth Duke of Devonshire, 1889, Georgiana Morpeth to Lord 
Hartington, n.d. (after 30 March 1806). It appears that she did indeed wear the ring until her own 
death. 

64 A. Foreman, Georgiana’s World. The Illustrated Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire (London, 
2001), p. 239. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


of Devonshire. There were also numerous mourning bracelets and rings created following 
the death of the Duchess, a number of which Georgiana kept until her own death. Many of 
these items included the hair of the Duchess, and Georgiana clearly attached a great deal of 
value to them, as they were among the items she bequeathed in the various editions of her 
will. 65 Mourning jewellery of all types acted to sustain the relationships with the deceased, 
and could do so across many generations, as Lady Carlisle’s bequests would have allowed. 66 
The wearer of such items continued to be linked with both the actual body, through the hair, 
and the idealized memoiy of the deceased, thus emphasising their own links to their ancestors, 
and their dynastic identity. 

COMMEMORATION 

It was not only through bereavement, mourning and grieving that new identities could be 
formed. In death, the deceased’s own identity could be reshaped, and through 
commemoration, reinvented. While the dying and deceased may have attempted some 
influence with regards to any posthumous makeover, it was the living that had full control 
over the nature of any re-evaluation. For elite women, their new identity usually fulfilled 
social ideals of ‘aristocratic femininity’ and so focused on advancing the status of the living 
rather than that of the dead. One could claim reflected glory from the assets of a deceased 
relative to ensure the quality of a pedigree was upheld and the ideals of the family secured. 
As the purity of female relatives had special currency among elites, and the need to ensure 
that blood lines were not sullied by illegitimacy, qualities such as chastity and monogamous 
femininity were especially praised. 

Following a death, the person’s documentary history and lasting identity could be reshaped. 
In large country houses with muniment rooms it was usual practice for aristocrats to keep 
letters that they had received and even copies of those they had sent. These along with 
diaries and other writings provided the family, and historians, with a lasting record of the 
deceased’s actions and, in some cases, their thoughts. It was common for family members to 
sort these letters in the months and years following a death. Following the death of Isabella 
Arundell in 1839, her husband, Henry, faced a struggle to keep control of her personal 
effects. Her sister-in-law, Lady Marianne Clifford Constable, had requested many items for 
herself, which had distressed him, leading him declare that ‘upon reflection she [Marianne] 
must be aware that what would be dear to her as a friend must be infinitely more so to me as 
a husband’. 67 He was keen to keep control of the memory of his wife, and so burnt her letters. 
However, he did keep her journals and sketches: ‘I have, as is natural, held them most sacred, 
they contain almost the history of her too much valued life ever to be in the possession of any other 
person than myself. 68 The words and images of the deceased could be emotive reminders to 
the bereaved, and so there was great concern to ensure that they were properly managed, 
and reluctance to part with significant items. The majority of the letters of Isabella, fourth 
Countess of Carlisle, that survive today are not the originals, but a copy book of letters 

65 A5/166, Probate of the will and codicil of the Rt Hon. Georgiana Dorothy Countess of Carlisle, 15 
June 1859; Carlisle MSS,J18/63, Memos about health, Park Street, 6 June 1817. 

66 Hallam and Hockey, Death, Memory and Material Culture , pp. 140-1. 

67 Brynmor Jones Library, Charles Chichester MSS, DDCH/36, Letters to and from Mary Barbara 
Chichester, Henry Arundell to Mary B. Chichester, 26 August 1831. 

68 Ibid 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


191 


written up by her youngest daughter, Julia Howard (1750-1849). Isabella had lived a life 
which fell outside the expectations of aristocratic femininity. Following the death of her first 
husband, the fourth Earl of Carlisle, she swiftly remarried, was then separated from her new 
husband, and was involved in subsequent affairs during her self imposed exile in France. 69 It 
appears that Julia may have felt that she needed to help improve her mother’s image, and so 
selected those letters that reflected the idealized virtues that Isabella wrote about in her 
Maxims , /0 This didactic text set out strict rules of behaviour for young elite women, who 
were told to respect their husbands, and to present to wider society an idealized image of 
domestic harmony and feminine virtue. It is unclear when the book of letters was written up, 
but it was probably after the death of Isabella in January 1795. 71 The letters stress the aging 
Isabella’s enjoyment of mature virtuous activities such as sewing, walking and quiet 
contemplation. They provide Isabella with the distinctly virtuous identity that her own 
activities had undermined, but which could be posthumously regained. In some cases the 
sorting of documents was continued by later generations of the family who had not even 
known the deceased; the collection at Chatsworth appears to have been sorted during the 
Victorian period, and many of the letters of Georgiana, fifth Duchess of Devonshire, were 
edited with thick black lines/ 2 Even those women who took care to control and edit their 
own collection of papers in their later years may have fallen foul of this later management. 73 
This is not to say that all letters containing personal intimacies were destroyed; a number of 
letters in which the writer had included ‘burn this letter’ as a postscript survive. 74 By editing 
and destroying the letters of the dead, the living family could ensure that the image of the 
deceased matched the family’s ideals, and that the quality of the dynasty was not threatened. 

A more public and lasting way that the identity of elites was shaped after their death was 
in their commemoration. Obituaries, epitaphs and memorials in the form of monuments or 
mausolea all offered was to record the ‘nature’ of the deceased in a lasting and public way. 
These provided the opportunity to highlight the role that an individual had played within 
their family, and to confirm their position within the dynasty. The celebration of women’s 
lives was normally shaped by their domestic duties, and their role as mothers and their 
feminine attributes were especially highlighted. Women’s inclusion within the dynastic 
monuments of the families, especially the mausolea, meant that their roles and position 
within the pedigree were celebrated too. The ways that women were represented following 
their death can be seen as asserting their femininity and aristocratic status, which were not 
only celebrated, but confirmed and assured for future prosperity. 


69 For a further discussion of Isabella’s life see: C. Ridgway, ‘Isabella, fourth Countess of Carlisle: No 
Life by Halves’, in Maids & Mistresses, Celebrating 300 Years of Women and the Yorkshire Country 
House , ed. R. M. Larsen (York, 2004), pp. 35-52; W. H. Smith, Originals Abroad. The Foreign 
Careers of Some Eighteenth-century Britons (New Haven, Conn., 1952), pp. 91-114. 

70 1. Carlisle, Thoughts in the Form of Maxims Addressed to Young Ladies on Their First Establish- 
ment in the World (Dublin, 1790). 

71 Carlisle MSS,J13/l/3, Copybooks of letters to Julia Howard from Isabella Carlisle, 1771-2. 

11 A. Foreman, Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire [ London, 1998), p. xv. 

74 At the start of the twentieth century Rosalind, ninth Countess of Carlisle appears to have man- 
aged and shaped her own archives at Castle Howard. Among the items included were rather 
intimate drawings of her by her husband, who was an artist - Dr Christopher Ridgway, curator at 
Castle Howard, pers. comm. 

74 E.g. Devonshire MSS, Letters of the fifth Duke of Devonshire, 1890, Georgiana Morpeth to Lord 
Hartington, 10 April 1806. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


Stephen Howard’s study of the representation of women in the printed media of the 
eighteenth century illustrates the importance placed on domestic values in women’s 
biographies and obituaries. As obituaries, although anonymous, were usually written by a 
relative of the deceased, familial and dynastic concerns were often central in the published 
piece/ 5 The female subject was often portrayed as a moral exemplar, and the general agreement 
within society regarding those qualities which deserved commendation meant that obituaries 
rarely showed signs of individuality. Central themes and merits appeared including the 
subject’s devoutness; her purity of heart and body; her sweetness and kindness to family and 
strangers; her compassion; and, in her difficulties, fortitude and resignation. Familial 
relationships were, for many women, the principal means by which their lives were defined, 
and this was especially true for aristocrats whose main duties were usually, both in practice 
and in perception, based around the support and enhancement of their family. A week after 
the 1859 death of Eliza Chichester at Burton Constable, an announcement was placed in the 
local newspaper. It noted that she had died following a long illness: ‘borne with greatest 
patience and cheerfulness ... [the] loss to her sorrowing sister Lady Clifford Constable, and all their 
friends which had the happiness of knowing her is irreparable’. 76 Eliza was a single woman living 
with her sister and her family, and so Eliza’s relations with her sister and friends were her 
main familial activities, for which she was duly praised. 

The importance of dynasty can also be seen in the burial practices. Members of the 
aristocratic family were often interred together in family tombs within churches; for example 
the Harewoods used the Lascelles crypt under All Saints Church at Harewood, and the 
Irwins were buried in Whitkirk Church near Temple Newsam. Other families chose to build 
their own burial monuments, such as a mausoleum, as can be found at Castle Howard for the 
Carlisles and, for the Burton Constable family, at Halsham, East Yorkshire. The mausoleum 
at Castle Howard reflects a novel approach in the third Earl’s determination to confirm the 
family’s status through the celebration of past lives, as it is reputedly the first of such 
monuments to be associated with a country house in Britain/' Its design indicates the 
importance of the mausoleum as a way of protecting and promoting the family’s reputation. 
Its base is a series of curved retaining walls, with niches set between square bastions, thus 
giving the effect of a fortress, indicating both its symbolic importance and that the members 
of the family were still safeguarded even after death. By placing the mausoleum at Castle 
Howard in the estate grounds it served the dual purpose of burial place and ornament. The 
interior of the building was described as being ‘as noble a space as it is possible to conceive’, 
and the whole package can be seen as an assertion of the family’s aristocratic status/ 8 


75 S. Howard, “‘A bright pattern to all her sex”: representations of women in periodical and 
newspaper biography’, in Gender in Eighteenth-Century England: Roles, Representations and 
Responsibilities , ed. H. Barker and E. Chalus (London, 1997), p. 232. For epitaphs and gender see 
M. Vovelle, ‘A century and half of American epitaphs (1660-1813) - toward the study of collective 
attitudes about death’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 22 (1980), 534-47. 

76 ERYARS, DDCC(2)/45A/15, Hull Advertiser, 29 October 1859. 

77 J. S. Curl, A Celebration of Death. An Introduction to Some of the Buildings, Monuments, and 
Settings of Funerary Architecture in the Western European Tradition, Revised Edition (London, 
1993), p. 179. For a full discussion of the conception and building of the Castle Howard mausoleum 
see Saumarez Smith, The Building of Castle Howard, ch. 6. 

78 Curl, A Celebration of Death, pp. 179-80. 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


193 


Mausolea and vaults allowed families to be brought together after death; bodies would be 
transported back from abroad to be buried with their relatives. The burial of family members 
at a single location meant that the importance of dynasty during life continued after death, 
as they were to be continually recalled as part of the pedigree, not as individuals. Inclusion 
in the mausoleum would highlight that person’s position as part of the family, although there 
can be surprising inclusions and absences. Servants were not normally buried with the 
family, but Nanny Dowler, the long serving nurse from Burton Constable, was buried in their 
mausoleum, indicating her importance to the family. 79 Those who married would often be 
included in their marital family’s plot: at Castle Howard a great many of the children were 
not interred in the monument, including the unmarried Julia Howard who had lived at the 
house for most of her ninety-nine years. 80 A private building also allowed a family to manage 
their own burial space. Unlike a public church they had control over who was buried there, 
and so the dynastic purity of the family could be protected. When the mausoleum at Halsham 
was completed in 1802, all the bodies from the family vault in the parish church were moved 
into the new building, except for that of one member of the Constable family who had 
squandered estate finances on racing whippets. 81 

Individuals could also be celebrated by their own memorial monuments. During the 
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, these monuments became increasingly popular, and 
there was a growth in the number dedicated to women and children. They were often 
designed to mark the role of women as wives and mothers, thus reflecting the continued 
celebration of the ideals of aristocratic femininity after death. 82 During the early modern 
period, memorial monuments often presented the image of the family mourning the deceased 
together, with the children often shown as miniature kneeling figures around the tomb. 83 
Although the image of the family continued, it became less formal and more affectionate in 
nature as generic mourning figures were replaced by weeping mothers. These monuments 
allowed individual expressions of grief; mourning was too formal to allow real woe to be 
shown, but monuments offered a public medium for the articulation of personal sorrow. 84 

The monuments often used similar language to those found in the printed obituaries, 
using the same discourse of aristocratic feminine virtue. The relationship between these 
two forms of commemoration is most notable on the monument of Lora Burton Dawnay, 
fourth Viscountess Downe, in York Minster. The monument instructs viewers that ‘for her 
character and other particulars see the Gentleman’s Magazine for May MDCCCXII’. The 
tablet was erected by her son in 1836, many years after her death, aged 72, in April 1812, and 


79 Geradine Mulcahy, pers. comm. 

8(1 Many thanks to the Hon. Simon Howard for allowing me to explore the Castle Howard mauso- 
leum. Julia was buried in London. 

81 N. B. Penny, Church Monuments in Romantic England (London, 1977), p. 58. 

82 N. B. Penny, ‘English monuments to women who died in childbed between 1780— 1835’, Journal of 
the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes^ (1975), 314; J. W. Hurtig, ‘Death in childbirth: seventeenth- 
century English tombs and their place in contemporary thought’, The Art Bulletin 65 (1983), 
passim. 

83 See, for example, H. Zerek-Kleszcz, ‘The death of a child in old Polish culture’, Acta Poloniae- 
Historica 79 (1999), 7. 

84 D. Irwin, ‘Sentiment and antiquity: European tombs 1750-1830’, in Mirrors of Mortality. Studies 
in the Social History of Death, ed.J. Whaley (London, 1981), pp. 144-5; Aries, The Hour of Our 
Death , p. 327. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


clearly recognized the published obituary as the best record of Lady Downe’s life. A short 
extract from it was included on the monument, which noted, among other characteristics 
that she had: 

a real, unpretending, and almost unconscious, good sense, and a firm desire to act right, on all 
occasions, to the best of her judgment were her most distinguishing characteristics. Activity of mind 
and body, sound health, cheerful manners, the open confidence of an honest mind, the lively 
serenity of an easy conscience, with a benevolent disposition, and hereditary personal graces, both 
of form and face, which even in age had not disappeared, complete her picture. 

This description of Lady Downe illustrates both her aristocratic and feminine qualities, as 
her conscience and good sense were enhanced by her inherited beauty. The monument also 
stresses how she died in the presence of her children and ‘faithful attendants’, illustrating 
her success as both an elite employer and domestic mother. By arranging for a tablet to be 
placed in York Minster, although she was buried at Snaith, her family’s desire to assert her 
status is stressed by celebrating her life in the most important church in Yorkshire. 

Two monuments to women who grew up in Castle Howard also celebrate their domestic 
and feminine qualities. After the death in 1825 of Elizabeth, fifth Duchess of Rutland, 
daughter of the fifth Earl of Carlisle, her husband arranged for a mausoleum to be built and 
dedicated to her memory on the Belvoir Castle estate. Although the remains of other Rutland 
ancestors were moved into the building, it was clearly conceived as a shrine to Elizabeth, 
shaped by the sentiments of a grieving husband. Within the mausoleum is a figure of the 
Duchess, ascending to heaven, her outstretched arms greeting the angelic figures of the four 
children who predeceased her. 85 The celebration of Elizabeth’s maternal virtues reflects the 
importance placed on the dynastic role that she played in the Rutland family, and asserted 
her merits. These themes can also be found on the monument to Lady Elizabeth Lechmere, 
daughter of the third Earl of Carlisle and one of the three Howard sisters discussed above. 
Located at Westminster Abbey, near the then fashionable ‘Poet’s Corner’, it highlights her 
feminine qualities and her husband’s lasting devotion to her. It was erected more than thirty- 
five years after her 1739 death, and was paid for by the will of her widowed second husband, 
Sir Thomas Robinson, who died in 1775. The epitaph records that the monument was 
erected to perpetuate her husband’s: 

gratifying sense of pleasure he had in the Conversation of an accomplished Woman, a sincere 
friend, and an agreeable Companion, with particular direction that his own bust should be placed 
by hers. 

Robinson’s decision to include payment for a memorial for his wife in his will shows how he 
must have endured a continuing attachment to her, even many years after her death. His 
description of Elizabeth as ‘accomplished’ and a friend shows the companionate nature of 
their relationship, which he was pleased to celebrate publicly by placing the monument in a 
high profile area of Westminster Abbey. 

Both these monuments celebrate the feminine qualities and domestic lives of the women, 
although the different time periods do reflect different emphases in the epitaphs, with the 
celebration of intellect and the inclusion of moral warning becoming less common in the 


85 Penny, Church Monuments, pp. 56-7. 


DEATH BECOMES HER 


195 


nineteenth century. However, while they portrayed the deceased as persons of elite virtue, 
the actions and natures of the women did not necessarily justify such proclamations. In both 
obituaries and epitaphs the more dubious elements of a woman’s life were usually ignored or 
described with sympathy but with a caveat that their downfall should be reminder to all 
about the importance of a morally sound life . 86 Elizabeth, Duchess of Rutland, was known as 
the ‘proudest woman in England’ whose abrupt and unfriendly manner to her less well- 
connected Howard siblings caused her father, the fifth Earl of Carlisle, much sorrow, especially 
when her brothers suffered from her ‘unsister like coldness’ following the death of their 
mother, the Earl’s wife. 8/ Although portrayed as a loving mother to the children who had 
predeceased her, her relations with the children who had reached maturity were on occasions 
difficult. After Elizabeth’s death, her sister Julia Howard noted that ‘the innocence of her 
conduct I was always convinced of. She cancelled so much of the excellence of it, which has 
now appeared ’. 88 Julia felt obliged to overlook the Duchess real nature, and seek at least 
some evidence of virtue. Elizabeth Lechmere likewise did not lead a virtuous life, and if the 
monument had been erected immediately following her death it would have almost certainly 
have caused much surprise in London, where she caused scandal due to her drinking, 
gambling and attempted suicide. With the passing of time, her husband hoped to reclaim her 
reputation. These monuments can therefore be seen as the continued construction of the 
feminine identity, the final performance of aristocratic domestic virtue. 

Encounters by elite women with the death of one close to them could have a significant 
impact on their lives, and may have reshaped their identity. In widowhood, a woman entered 
a new stage of her life which may have given her independence and freedom to lead her 
marital family, as Frances, Viscountess Irwin did. In contrast, it may have meant that a 
woman had to return to her natal family, and that her new identity was more that of an elite 
single woman rather than of a dynastic matriarch. In mourning and its associated cultures, 
women could assert their links with the deceased and the bereaved through the wearing of 
mourning dress, jewellery, or the sending of condolence letters. It was in the commemoration 
of the deceased, though, that an elite woman’s identity was most likely to be reshaped. The 
public declaration of femininity, dynastic loyalty, and familial affection through monuments 
and obituaries ensured the lasting status of the deceased, and closely associated them with 
elite feminine qualities beyond their lives and into perpetuity. The importance of aristocratic 
femininity was so strong that many years after a death, relatives would erect monuments to 
express and reclaim the deceased’s virtues. Death provided the living with an opportunity to 
re-form alliances, re-state affection, and re-write histories. The identity of the deceased 
could be negotiated and previous failings forgotten. While for the deceased, death may have 
been the great leveller, for the living, its effects and responses were distinctly aristocratic. 


86 Howard, “‘A bright pattern to all her sex’”, pp. 236-7. 

H7 Lewis, In the Family Way, pp. 29, 53-4; Carlisle MSS, J 14/1/72, Frederick Carlisle to his daughter, 
Elizabeth Rutland, Belvoir Castle [1824]. For a more flattering view of Elizabeth see R. Baird, 
Mistress of the House. Great Ladies and Grand Houses (London, 2003), pp. 258-83. 
m Carlisle MSS, J 18/50, Julia Howard, The Priory, to Georgiana Carlisle, 20 December [1825]. 






























































































Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


197 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 

Peter Holmes 

The discovery of a digest of the accounts of the partnership of John Hustler and Thomas 
Hardcastle, colliers and coal-merchants, which was in business from 1781 to 1806, shows 
how Yorkshire entrepreneurs played a crucial role in the development of coal-mining in 
Lancashire. Having helped in the creation of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the two Brad- 
ford businessmen set up a successful company in conjunction with John Wright, a promi- 
nent London banker, which mined coal in the Orrell area and sent it by the canal, in boats 
belonging to the partnership, to Liverpool where Hardcastle based himself as a coal-mer- 
chant. The accounts furnish evidence for the nature and scale of the business and its profit- 
ability. Further information about the partners and their families is also provided from wills 
and vital records. 

The pivotal role of Yorkshireman, John Hustler (1715-1790) in the development of the 
Industrial Revolution is well established. As a woolstapler he played a significant part in the 
growth of Bradford’s worsted trade. He was, in the quarter century before his death, one of 
the town’s leading inhabitants and was responsible with others for building the Piece Hall 
and other public buildings. In addition, as a philanthropic Quaker, he played an important 
part in the development of that sect, the social, political and economic role of which on a 
national scale can hardly be exaggerated. It was above all as one of the promoters of the 
‘Grand Canal’ linking Leeds and Liverpool that he is best remembered. Even if in its incep- 
tion the project was not his responsibility, and even if he died well before it was completed, 
it can hardly be doubted that he was the most important single figure in the development of 
the canal. What was remarkable about Hustler was his willingness to play a role nationally in 
the promotion of both the canal and the wool trade, lobbying parliament, writing pamphlets 
and using the newspaper press to promote business with a sort of religious fervour. 

John Hustler is generally called a woolstapler, and this description is the one he preferred 
himself. This seems fitting in view of his close connection with Bradford, the developing 
centre of the Yorkshire wool trade. But recent research has also emphasised that he, in 
company with another Bradford entrepreneur, Thomas Hardcastle, played a significant part 
in the growth of the Lancashire coal industry, especially in the area close to Wigan and 
centring on Orrell. Thus Hustler, from Bradford, extended his geographic reach over the 
border with Lancashire and also diversified into a new industrial sphere. It is with this 
aspect of his career that this paper is concerned. 1 


1 Gary Firth, Bradford and the Industrial Revolution (Halifax, 1990), pp.60, 81-5, 143-6; Charles 
Hadfield and G. Biddle, The Canals of North West England. Vol. I (Newton Abbott, 1970), 
pp. 60-82; D. Anderson, The Orrell Coalfield, Lancashire 1740-1850 (Stoke-on-Trent, 1975), 
pp. 21-45, 186-90; John Langton, Geographical change and the Industrial Revolution: Coalmining 
in South West Lancashire, 1590-1799 (Cambridge, 1979), esp. chap. 7. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


THE ACCOUNTS OF HUSTLER, HARDCASTLE & CO. 

The discovery of a digest of the accounts of Hustler, Hardcastle & Co. in their business as 
master colliers and coal-merchants helps provide more detail about this aspect of Hustler’s 
career. 2 It shows how important contacts with other businessmen like Hardcastle were and 
how transport, investment and entrepreneurship came together to provide a solid 
framework for industrial development. The accounts are contained in a small book, 
measuring 11 cm. by 18 cm., and bound in vellum. The binder’s label on the corner of 
the first page reads: ‘W. H. HYDE, Bookseller, Newcastle’. The book is 270 pages long, with 
125 of the pages containing accounts. On the inside front-page is written: ‘Copies of 
Extracts taken/ from the Books of Accounts/ of the late Firm of Hustler Hardcastle & Co./ 
Deer. 1830./ N. N. Bailey’. The book was clearly used very briefly at some later stage to 
record on two pages some costs associated with an ironmonger’s shop, and this may explain 
the inscription on the vellum cover of the book which reads: ‘Mr Thomas Wilder’s/ Book 
Stone[?J St./ Chelse[a?] 1866’. 

The account book consists of three principal elements, presented in double-entry format. 
First, the accounts of ‘trading concerns at Liverpool’, which cover the years 1781 - 1789, and 
are divided into a ‘Profit and Loss’ account (pp. 1 — 18) and then an incomplete summary of 
the ‘Nett Estate’ in these years (pp. 19-31 ). Second, the same format and years are covered by 
the accounts of the ‘Colliery Concerns’ (pp. 35-50; 51-68). Third, there are three accounts 
showing the state of the investment of the three partners in the firm: John Hustler in Brad- 
ford, covering the years 1780 to 1790, continued in the name of William Hustler from 1791 
to 1810, with references to ajohn Hustler in 1807 and 1808 (pp. 73-86). The next statement 
covers the investment of Thomas Hardcastle, with no geographical location given, from 
1782 to 1789, with reference to his executors from 1791 to 1810 (pp. 87-98). Finally, a 
statement of the account of John Wright in London, from 1782-1801, with his executors 
referred to from 1802 to 1810 (pp. 99-110). In addition to these three elements the accounts 
also contain some summaries which probably show why they were drawn up: there is ‘An 
account of Sundries forming the Nett Estate of the Colliery Concerns on the 31 st of Decem- 
ber 1788’ and a corresponding account of ‘Debts owing by the Collieries to Sundry Persons’ 
at that date. The profit and loss down to 5 July 1789 is then added into the sum of these two 
accounts (pp. 69-72). Later in the book there is a ‘Statement of the Amount of the personal 
Estate and Effects of Thomas Hardcastle on the 6 th July 1789’ (pp. 116-7), which is to be 
linked to ‘An account of Monies received by Mrs Mary Hardcastle as Executor of Thomas 
Hardcastle from the Partnership of Hustler Hardcastle & Co. subsequent to the 6 th of July 
1789’ (p.123). There is also a ‘Statement showing the value of the Colliery Engines, Imple- 
ments, Coals ungotten, Drowned Coals and sundry other effects belonging to Hustler 
Hardcastle & Co. on the 20 th day of September 1806 when the Copartnership expired’ 
(pp. 118-20). Hence it looks as if the executors of the will of Thomas Hardcastle, or those 
acting on their behalf, had the accounts drawn up to ensure that on the dissolution of the 
partnership there was an equitable division of the funds. The accounts as they stand were 
clearly drawn from more detailed records, and there are a number of references to the 

2 The present author purchased the account book at the Castle Bookshop, Colchester in about 
1990; a photocopy of the accounts is deposited in the Archives of the Yorkshire Archaeological 
Society. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


199 


Ledger and the Journal, which would undoubtedly have contained a fuller financial 
statement. 

JOHN HUSTLER AND HIS DESCENDANTS 

It is safe to conclude from the dates drawn from the account book and given above that the 
partnership between Hustler, Hardcastle and Wright started in 1781, that it continued until 
1806, despite the deaths of all the original partners, and was finally dissolved, after four years 
of winding-up, in 1810. It is also reasonable to deduce from the accounts that the three 
partners contributed an equal share to the investment in the business, and it seems (though 
this is less clear) that the initial share was £2,900 each. 3 Essentially, Hustler and Hardcastle 
were the executive force in the company, with Hustler perhaps the senior figure and with 
Wright, as far as one can see, a sleeping partner. To judge by the accounts, Hustler had 
already begun operations at least three years before the other two partners formally joined 
the business; and from other sources we know Hustler and Hardcastle were both involved in 
coal in the Wigan area from 1774-75. It is also known from other sources that Hustler and 
Hardcastle were prominent from as early as 1766 in the projection of plans to develop the 
Leeds and Liverpool Canal, and that this was the reason for their involvement in the Lanca- 
shire coalfield. They were significant figures in raising the capital for, and in working to 
smooth the passage of, the canal, establishing contacts with men in Lancashire for this 
purpose. 4 

Initially, the best chance of making money from the canal was likely to come from taking 
coals from the Lancashire collieries to Liverpool, and it was important to ensure that the 
part of the canal which would make this link was opened quickly. In this enterprise Hustler 
and Hardcastle worked closely with the Wigan landowner and lawyer, Holt Leigh, and his 
father Alexander Leigh. The Leigh family had played a major part in developing the Douglas 
Navigation earlier in the century and Hustler was able in 1771 to persuade Alexander Leigh 
to sell the majority share holding he held in the Douglas to the proprietors of the Leeds and 
Liverpool Canal. 5 The accounts record several payments to the ‘Douglas estate’, which are 
presumably to be interpreted as evidence of a continued separate financial existence of the 

3 The opening balance in the individual account of each shareholder is almost exactly £2,900 in the 
case of Hustler and Hardcastle, and £2,600 in the case of Wright. But Wright’s share may have been 
adjusted later. See below for the withdrawals on account of each of the share-holders, which run very 
close together; moreover, Hardcastle’s share is always given as a third share. 

4 See Firth, Bradford, ; Anderson, Orrell Coalfield ; Langton, Geographical change, ; cf. Arthur 
Raistrick, Quakers in Science and Industry (Newton Abbott, 1968), pp. 78-80, 185, 216, 297-8, 
329; H. R. Hodgson, The Society of Friends in Bradford (Bradford, 1926), pp. 38-43; Wade 
Hustwick, ‘An Eighteenth Century Wool-Stapler’, Journal of the Bradford Textile Society 
(Bradford, 1956-7), 117-25; Gary Firth, ‘John Hustler’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 

5 Hadfield and Biddle, Canals of North West England, pp.64-5; J. R. Harris, ‘Liverpool Canal 
Controversies 1769-1772’ , Journal of Transport History II (May, 1956), 158-74; H. F. Killick, 
‘Notes on the Early History of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal’, Bradford Antiquary ; n.s. I 
(1900), 169-238; Mike Clark, The Leeds and Liverpool Canal (Preston, 1990), esp. chaps 2 and 3. On 
the Leigh family, see John Langton, ‘Alexander Leigh’, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 
G.A. Knight, ‘Catalogue of Holt Leigh Estate Title Deeds,’ Wigan 1971, typescript, National Register 
of Archives A500.1857. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Douglas Canal even after this take-over. Thus, in 1785 a payment of £40 6.?. to the Douglas 
estate is recorded, and payments of £25 in 1786 and 1788 and of £24 16s 1 . in 1787 (pp.41, 43, 
45, 47). In 1789 a payment of £60 from the Douglas Estate is found rather curiously on the 
profit side of the account (p.50). These sums look like tolls paid by Hustler and Hardcastle, 
or possibly a rental for some use of landing-rights on the Douglas. The successful alliance 
forged between the men of Yorkshire (Hustler and Hardcastle in the lead) and the Leighs 
destroyed the efforts of a group of Liverpool merchants to undermine the Leeds and 
Liverpool development by building a rival canal from Wigan to Liverpool. Once the main 
share-holding in the Douglas Canal had been bought, and the Leighs, together with others in 
the locality of Wigan, had been persuaded to support the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, the 
merchants in Liverpool had no choice but to co-operate with Hustler. Far-sighted Liverpool 
merchants like the Blundells then moved to the Wigan area to take advantage of the 
opportunities presented by the opening up of markets to Wigan coal; the development of 
Blundell’s collieries was to have many parallels with the development of Hustler’s. Other 
prominent investors from both Bradford and Liverpool were also attracted to the area as 
time went by; for example, one John Jarratt, gent., whom I take to be the collier from 
Bradford who was to lay the foundation, with others (including John Lofthouse of 
Liverpool, himself an investor in the Wigan Coalfield), of the great Low Moor 
Ironworks. It is interesting to see Lofthouse being drawn across the Pennines 
in the same way that Hustler, Hardcastle and Jarratt were, but in the opposite direction. 6 

The Leighs owned a great deal of the coal in the Orrell area and it was certainly from them 
that Hustler and Hardcastle obtained the majority of their colliery leases. But the first lease 
taken by Hustler was in 1774 when he and the surveyor on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, 
John Longbothom, leased the Orrell Four Feet Seam in part of Charles Prescott’s Ayrefield 
estate in Up Holland. The Prescotts were landowners in the area who had been involved in 
coal mining for many years. This lease I take to be the origin of the Ayrefield colliery, one of 
the three collieries mentioned in the accounts. The accounts make references to the Rev 
Charles Prescott, the most significant of which records a debt of £247 5 s. Id. owed to 
Prescott on 31 December 1788 by the collieries, and which may constitute his rent (p.70). In. 
1775 Hustler, Hardcastle, John Longbothom, and John Chadwick, ironmaster of Burgh (a 
relative of the Leighs, and from a family associated with mining in the area for some time), 
had taken a lease from Holt Leigh on the Dean colliery to work the Four Feet Seam and what 
was left of the Five Feet Seam. In 1776 Hustler, Hardcastle and Chadwick leased what is 
called the Orrell colliery in the accounts, also from Leigh for a period of thirty years, having 
taken over the lease from Longbothom who had originally taken it the previous year but was 
now in financial difficulties. 7 According to Anderson, the ‘certain’ rent agreed for the Dean 
and Orrell collieries at first was £500, which increased to £900 in 1788, to £1,000 in 1791 
and £2,500 in 1801. In addition there were ‘mine rents’ to be paid for each of the two seams 
(Four Feet and Five Feet) mined at a designated sum per acre. 8 The account book does not 
corroborate these sums but it does contain some enigmatic references to Holt Leigh in 

6 Langton, Geographical Change , p.223 & appendix 2; W. E. Preston, ‘Some Notes on an Old 
Bradford Partnership’, Bradford Antiquary , n.s. 3 (1912), 316. 

7 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield , pp. 186-7. 

8 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield ' p.187. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


201 


connection with the transfer of large sums of money. Thus in the ‘Nett Estate’ of the colliery 
concerns in 1783 (pp.53-4) there is a record of a debt owing to Holt Leigh of £1,172 16s. 1 </., 
and in the opposite column a debt owed by Holt Leigh of £1,553 15s. 10 d. Similarly in 1785 
(pp.57-8) we find ‘To Holt Leigh Esqr, transferred’ £215 19s. 4 l Ad. and ‘To H. Leigh Esqr, 
Acct, for Sundries as pr Journal’ £1,710 Is. 1 d.\ and also on the other side of the balance 
sheet ‘By Holt Leigh Esqr, Acct, for Sundries as P Journal’ £1,158 11s. 3 d. These entries, 
whatever they mean precisely, clearly corroborate the general point that there was a close 
financial association between Leigh and the firm. 

Thus, after 1776, Hustler, Hardcastle and Chadwick ran the collieries until in 1780 
Chadwick died, and his widow wished to disengage herself from the business. Clearly, with 
Chadwick gone, Hustler and Hardcastle wished to find a new investor, and this they did in 
the shape of John Wright. There is other evidence that financial support was needed at this 
point. A letter survives written by Hustler to Leigh in 1779 in which Hustler asks the 
colliery-owner for credit because he cannot find the full sum he owes him. 9 In 1781 Hustler 
mortgaged twenty-seven shares in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal and one in the Bradford 
Canal with the London Quaker bankers, Daniel Mildred and Jonathan Hoare. Thus Hustler 
was mortgaging shares in the canal in order to finance an investment in his coal business 
which would use the canal for transport, thus ensuring the dividend on the shares. Hustler 
was demonstrating his faith in his pet project, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, in a very real 
way. It has been suggested that this mortgage may have been connected with his purchase at 
this time of Undercliffe House in Bradford, but it must also have been linked to his invest- 
ment in the collieries. 10 It is also worth reflecting that 1781 was a good year in which to make 
such an investment, since the English economy was in bad shape but an astute investor 
might see that, with the American War of Independence coming to a close, the chances of 
future economic growth were high and that an Atlantic port like Liverpool might well 
benefit from this peace. So, by 1781 the partnership between Hustler, Hardcastle and Wright 
had been established, with the three collieries mentioned in the account book, at Ayrefield, 
Dean and Orrell, and the coal-merchanting business in Liverpool. 

While Hustler, living in Bradford, certainly knew something about coal, he was a woolstapler 
by trade and his career aptly demonstrates the point often made about entrepreneurs, that 
what they needed was not specialist knowledge but a head for business and a willingness to 
adapt. It is difficult to envisage how the colliery operations were run but it seems likely that 
the Wigan end of things was more in the hands of Hustler than Hardcastle. Whether Hustler 
actually stayed there for long periods is unclear, but he was close enough at Undercliffe 
House, Bradford, to be there in a day, and it seems likely that he would have visited Wigan 
reasonably frequently. Hustler’s will, made in 1790, suggests that he was still actively 
involved as a woolstapler in business with Edmund Peckover, but it may be that 
his son, William (and less probably his younger sonjohn also), were already helping him in 
this trade and indeed may also have worked in the management of the collieries too. 11 

9 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, p.188. 

10 J. R. Ward, The Finance of Canal Building in Eighteenth Century England (Cambridge, 
1974), p.110. 

11 B[orthwick] Institute for Archives, York], Will of John Hustler of Undercliffe, Bradford, merchant, 
made 26/7/1790, passed York 22/1/1791. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Certainly, some of his descendants did set up house in Orrell, although they continued 
through the first half of the nineteenth century to be based also in Yorkshire. But there was 
almost certainly a permanent local figure employed to manage the colliery too: William 
Robinson, engineer of Ayrefield House, Up Holland, is known to have been Hustler’s 
manager in the 1790s. 12 The accounts also show a payment of £224 to J. Blundell & Son 
made on 1 October 1809, as the ‘amount of the value of coals gotten’ (p.120). This suggests 
that at this point another prominent master collier, Jonathan Blundell, was acting as a 
subcontractor in one of Hustler and Hardcastle’s collieries. 13 John Hustler’s management 
was certainly not lacking at the strategic level, though. In 1784 we find him supporting the 
creation of a committee set up in Bradford under Abraham Balme to oppose the proposals 
made by Pitt the Younger to introduce a tax on coal: ‘no pains ought to be saved that may be 
used in the least degree to defeat it’, Hustler wrote in a letter to John Hardy, the Bradford 
attorney who was also a master-collier and entrepreneur, and an associate of John Jarratt. 
The pressure brought to bear by Balme, Hardy, Hustler and their supporters was sufficient 
to get this senseless proposal for a tax removed. 14 It is interesting to see Hustler uniting the 
Lancashire and Yorkshire coal interest in fighting in a common cause to defend their 
industry. 

Holt Leigh and his son, the eccentric Sir Robert Holt Leigh, Bart., had such a high regard 
for John Hustler’s integrity and acumen that after Hustler’s death Sir Robert is said to have 
refused to give the lease on his coalmines to anyone who did not have the surname Hustler 
- his judgement presumably reflecting Leigh family tradition. 15 The opportunity to put this 
loyalty to the test had come soon enough, forjohn Hustler died in 1790 and the management 
of the business then passed to William (1766-1801), his son by his second wife, Christiana 
Hird. John’s will mentioned his widow, three children by his second wife besides William 
(Sarah, John and Anna) and two daughters (Hannah Hustler and Jane Fisher, wife of William 
Fisher of Leeds, merchant) by his first wife, whom I would identify as Tabitha Grimshaw. 16 
In the will John left a total of twenty shares in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, which he 
valued at £150 each, and the interest on which he said was 4 per cent. He specifically 
mentioned also ‘the colliery in Lancashire in which I am engaged along with John Wright of 
London banker and Mary Hardcastle widow’; this suggests that he held at that point no 
further colliery leases apart from those in which he was engaged with these partners. By his 
will his share in the colliery was to be run for a further three years by his executors (his wife, 
Christiana, and eider son, William), in order to fund his various legacies, and then to be 
given to William. William was to admit John, the younger son, who had himself received 

12 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, p.191. 

13 On the Blundells see D. Anderson, ‘Blundell’s Collieries, the Progress of the Business’, 
Transactions of the Historical Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 116 (1964), 69ff. 

14 Gary Firth, ‘Roles of a West Riding Land Steward 1773-1803’, YAJ, vol. 51 (1979), 111. 

15 John Maffey, ‘On Some of the Decayed Families of Bradford,’ Bradford Antiquary ; vol. I 
(1888), 26-32. 

16 BI, Will of John Hustler. F[riends] Mfeeting] H[ouse Library, Euston Road, London], Records 
of births, marriages and deaths of the Society of Friends. The FMH also holds typescript 
biographies of the Hustler family among the biographical collections. The existence, and identity, 
of Hustler’s first wife, which is clear from his will and from the records of marriages, is nowhere 
mentioned in the literature on Hustler. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


203 


substantial cash legacies from his father, to a third of the Hustler share in the colliery and a 
third of the wool trade conducted with Edmund Peckover, in return for a payment of a third 
of the value of the businesses. Hustler’s will also directed his wife and son to ‘keep up the 
credit and name of the family’ and to ‘keep the same hospitable house that I have done’. It 
seems reasonable to infer that William continued to run the colliery as his father had before 
him; since Hardcastle was dead by now, the entire responsibility must have been borne by 
him - Wright had probably never been more than a sleeping partner. 

Only eleven years after his father, in 1801, William Hustler also died. In his will he de- 
scribed himself as a woolstapler, and left two ‘original shares’ in the Leeds and Liverpool 
Canal, among other things, to his wife, Jane Fell, whom he had married as recently as 1796. 17 
He instructed his trustees to do what they needed with his property, apart from investing it 
in ‘the Funds’ - presumably at a time of war this was due to religious scruples, and it may 
suggest a further reason why Quaker money could be so easily made available to business 
enterprise. He named his wife, his brother John, his uncle William Birkbeck the Elder, and 
his cousin William Birkbeck the Younger as his executors. His father’s will had also named 
Morris and William Birkbeck as arbitrators in case there were any disagreement over the 
disposition of his estate. Essentially William wanted his brother John to continue to trade on 
his behalf in order to maintain his widow and children. William mentioned ‘my share and 
interest in a colliery in which I am engaged with representatives of Thomas Hardcastle and 
John Wright both deceased which I will shall be carried on and wrought for the benefit of my 
children by my said Trustees as fully and effectually as I would do if living’. The will also 
required the trustees to treat in the same way a lease which he, together with Edmund 
Peckover and others held in a colliery in Lancashire from Charles Townley Esq. and Edward 
Townley Standish Esq. This was also in the Orrell area, and the lease in question was made 
injanuary 1798. 18 Presumably it could be managed to some degree in the same way as the 
original colliery lease. In 1805 the accounts record a payment of £505 on the account of 
Thomas Hardcastle to Peckover and Son (p.95), which shows a close connection of some 
unspecified sort between Peckover and the firm. The Peckovers were Quaker bankers and 
woolstapling colleagues of the Hustlers in Bradford, and it may be supposed that their 
involvement was primarily as investors. By 1799, Hustler’s was the second biggest colliery in 
the Orrell area with, according to the land-tax returns, thirty-five employees. 19 In 1804 the 
Land Tax records show that the firm employed fifty people. 20 

Thus, after the death of William in 1801 the business seems to have been carried on by his 
brother, John, and it was under him that the partnership was wound up in the years 
1806-1810. In effect the other two partners, or their executors, were bought out by the 
Hustlers. The Hustler dynasty continued to be involved in the Lancashire coal business, 
however, under John who lived until 1844. Baines’s Directory for 1824 lists John Hustler 


17 BI, Will of William Hustler of Bradford, woolstapler, made 22/6/1799, proved York, 12/10/ 
1802; York; FMH, Records of Quaker births, marriages and deaths. 

18 Anderson, The Orrell Coalfield , p.21. 

19 Joyce H. M. Bankes, ‘Records of Mining in Winstanley and Orrell, near Wigan’, Transactions 
of the Lancashire and Cheshire Antiquarian Society vol. LIV (1939), 61. 

20 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, p.191. 


204 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


and Co. as coal merchants in Liverpool and also as coal and cannel merchants at Orrell. 21 
The Commission of Enquiry into the Employment of Children in Mines recorded in 1842 
that Messrs J. Hustler and Co, at Up Holland employed 135 people, of whom twenty were 
under 13 years old. 22 After John’s death the business continued under his son, John Mildred 
Hustler, and his brother’s son, another John. In the mid-1840s the Hustlers went into part- 
nership with William Hill Brancker of Liverpool. 23 The Hustlers were now resident in Lan- 
cashire; in 1846 John Hustler lived at Orrell Mount and John Mildred Hustler at Orrell 
Hall. 24 The connection of the family with coal mining in the region does not seem to have 
lasted much longer, however; and apparently the seams were being worked out by the middle 
of the century. John Mildred Hustler was not held in very high regard as a businessman by 
his relations, and he died in any case in 1849 at the age of 33. While his cousin John was 
more stable and more able, he retired to Falmouth at some point and it seems that the links 
between the family and Orrell were ended around 1850. 25 The business, or what was left of 
it, passed to Brancker. 

THOMAS HARDCASTLE 

Thomas Hardcastle was probably from the same Bradford family as the William Hardcastle 
(who may have been his brother) who started the first bank in the town, which went bank- 
rupt in 1781. 25 The Hardcastles, like the Hustlers, were from a family of woolstaplers. Al- 
though Thomas Hardcastle was not a Quaker, it is possible that he was related to a Quaker 
family of the same name from Hardcastle Garth, Hartwith-cum-Winsley in the parish of 
Kirkby Malzeard. 2 ' He (and the banker William Hardcastle) was fairly quickly involved with 
Hustler in the development of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. He was a treasurer of the canal 
in 1769, and worked hard to develop the links with investors from across the border in 
Lancashire. Like Hustler, too, he was then drawn by the Leighs into the Wigan Coalfield. In 
January 1771 he paid a very significant visit to Wigan in the company of another prominent 
Bradfordian, Abraham Balme. They were shown the area by Alexander Leigh, who was 
clearly trying to persuade them to invest in the collieries there. Hardcastle reported 


21 Edward Baines, Directory of Lancashire 1824 { reprinted Trowbridge, 1968), p.614. 

22 Parliamentary Papers, XVII (1842), Part ii, Appendix, p.194. 

23 C. H. A. Townley, F. D. Smith and J. A. Peden, The Industrial Railways of the Wigan 
Coalfields (Cheltenham, 1991), pp.57, 64. 

24 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, p.24; Annual Monitor, 1846, death notice of Phoebe Elizabeth 
Gray Hustler aged 11 at Orrell, daughter of John and Phoebe Hustler; cf. Annual Monitor, 
1841, death notice of Ann Hustler, aged 38 at Toxteth Park, nr. Liverpool, for a suggestion of 
links with Liverpool in the family then. 

25 H. R. Hodgson, The Society of Friends in Bradford (Bradford, 1926), p.42; there are references 
to the Hustlers in the 1830s and 1840s in R. L. Brett (ed.), Barclay Fox’s Journal (London, 1979), 
see index. 

26 William Cudworth, ‘The first Bradford Bank’, Bradford Antiquary, n.s. II (1905), 232-7; 
Wilfrid Robertshaw, ‘An Early Bradford Bank Note’, Bradford Antiquary, X (1962), 214 

27 On the Quaker Hardcastles see Bernard Jennings (ed.), A History of Nidderdale (York, 
1992), pp.398-9. I should emphasise that my knowledge of the Hardcastle family tree is limited 
and all comments about Thomas Hardcastle’s ancestry and family are tentative. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


205 


(referring to himself in the third person): 

The Valleyes being flooded, Mr Hardcastle could not look over the ground where the coal 
seams are supposed to be, but proceeded to Mr Bankes of Winstanley who informed the said Mr 
Hardcastle that in all the ground between Wigan and Newburgh, on both sides of the Douglas 
Navigation, are plenty of good coals, chiefly beds of from four to six feet thick. 28 

From 1775, as has been said, Hardcastle, Hustler and their partners took leases on collier- 
ies at Ayrefield, Dean and Orrell. After forming the new partnership with Hustler and Wright 
in 1781, Hardcastle played an active part in the running of the Liverpool end of the business. 
He may have been working there somewhat before, since in April 1780 the accounts show 
that Hustler paid him £ 1 1 1 (p.73). It is worth emphasising here the significance to the firm 
of having a permanent coal-merchanting business at the end of the canal in Liverpool; it is 
also worth pointing out that the role of Hardcastle in establishing this part of the business 
would have been unknown without the evidence drawn from the account book. When 
Hardcastle died in July 1789 it was in Liverpool, where he had lived. In 1805 his widow’s 
address is given as 3, Leeds Street, which was next to the canal terminus, and was probably 
where the couple had lived before Thomas’s death and where the company had its office. 
This was next door to Jonathan Blundell’s house and office; the Blundells were also promi- 
nent Orrell colliers, as has been said. 

Hardcastle’s will, proved in Chester, directed his trustees ‘to carry on my partnership 
concerns under the firm of Hustler, Hardcastle and Co. ..for the benefit of my said wife 
during her life and afterwards for the benefit of the persons to whom I have hereby given the 
residue of my estate’. 29 The Hardcastles had no children of their own and Thomas intended 
his estate to go eventually to a nephew, John Hardcastle, and a niece, Elizabeth Hayes. His 
trustees were his wife, Mary, and his friend Robert Berry of Liverpool, merchant. It seems 
likely therefore that Berry it was who continued to run the Liverpool business, and the will 
allowed him to take a reasonable salary for doing so. There were Berrys involved in coal 
mining at Orrell, and possibly Robert was part of this family; there was also a Berry employed 
as an engineer on the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. 30 The accounts mention Robert Berry in 
1785 (p.75), suggesting that he was already working with Hardcastle at that time. The hub of 
the business in Liverpool was presumably the same yard that was mentioned later on, in 
directories of 1805 and 1824, and which was in the basin where the Leeds and Liverpool 
Canal terminated, at 2, Canal Basin, Old Hall Street. This was right next-door to the Leeds 
and Liverpool Marine Office, and also the Orrell and Pemberton Coal Company. As John 
Aiken reported in 1795: ‘The head of this canal [the Leeds and Liverpool], near the Ladies’ 
Walk, is widened into a kind of basin, where boats can load and unload with the greatest 


28 Killick, Bradford Antiquary, n.s. I, 221. 

29 Gore’s Liverpool Directory, 1805; Lancashire County Record Office, Preston. 

Will of Thomas Hardcastle of Liverpool, coal merchant, made 2/7/1789, proved Chester 11/7/ 
1789. 

Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, pp.24, 39, 109, 167-9. 


30 


206 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


convenience, in a large coal-yard.’ 31 In 1824 Thomas’s widow, Mary Hardcastle, gentlewoman, 
continued to live in Liverpool, at 68, Richmond Row. 33 When he died in 1789, Thomas 
Hardcastle’s wealth is said in the account book to be £11,121 13s 1 . IVid. (p.116). Of this, 
£8,980 85. 8 d. was said to be the ‘amount of his A share of Capital and Stock in Trade in the 
concerns of Hustler, Hardcastle & Co.’. Of the rest, he had £860 of canal shares, and his 
furniture, plate etc. were valued at £ 145 145. 6d. It is clear from this, that Thomas Hardcastle’s 
fortune was concentrated by this time almost entirely in his coal-merchant’s business, 
although he was sensibly still hanging on to his shares in the canal, which, as the inventory 
shows, returned an annual dividend of £40 I65. 4 d.. 

JOHN WRIGHT 

The third partner was one John Wright, banker of London. He is to be identified as the 
Quaker partner in the London bank of Smith, Wright and Co., which Wright probably joined 
in 1763 when it was at the Golden Ball, Lombard Street. After 1792 it amalgamated with 
Esdaile and Co., the firm founded by Sir James Esdaile, and carried on business at 21 Lombard 
Street as Esdaile, Smith, Wright, Hammett and Co. 33 It seems possible that Wright seldom (or 
even never) visited Orrell or Liverpool; he was simply a sleeping partner, part of the Quaker 
network whose money Hustler arranged to invest. The bank had been used by Hustler before 
and in fact became one of the chief mechanisms by which investors in the Leeds and Liverpool 
Canal were found, and the bank had also lent cash to the canal’s management committee at one 
point. 34 The work of banks in the eighteenth century in the financing of coal mining, while not 
unknown, was a little unusual and the involvement of Wright in investments in a coalfield so far 
from his home territory is interesting. 3 ^ It is clear this involvement developed in economic 
terms from Wright’s connection with the canal project, and in personal terms from his 
association with Hustler as a fellow-Quaker. 

Wright was originally from Norfolk, born on the 6 July 1728 at Buxton in that county, the 
son of Richard and Grace (born Smythies). After Richard died, Grace remarried Edmund 
Peckover at Norwich on 2 February 1762. Peckover was Hustler’s woolstapling partner and 
fellow investor in the Lancashire coalfields. 36 Wright outlived the other two original part- 
ners in the firm. He died on New Year’s Day 1798 near his retirement home in Esher, Surrey: 
‘he ... rode out on horseback by himself and ... when he went from home he seemed in perfect 
health and ... about half an hour after his leaving he dropped off his horse in an apoplectic fit 


31 John Aiken, A Description of the Country from Thirty to Forty Miles Round Manchester, 1795 
(London, 1795, reprinted, Newton Abbott, 1968), p.363. 

33 Edward Baines, Baines’s Lancashire 1824 , p.27 1 , 

33 F. G. Hilton Price, A Handbook of London Bankers (London, 1890-1), pp. 153-4, 57-8 

34 J. R. Ward, The Finance of Canal Building in Eighteenth Century England (Cambridge, 
1974), pp.35, 186. 

35 M. W. Flinn, The History of the British Coal Lndustry vol. 2, 1700-1830, the Industrial 
Revolution (Oxford, 1984), p.208; L. S. Pressnell, Country Banking in the Industrial Revolution 
(Oxford, 1956), pp.322, 342-3. 

36 Details of Wright’s family connections are from FMH, Records of Quaker births, marriages and 
deaths. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


207 


and died instantly’. 37 His will shows that there was more money to be made in banking than 
woolstapling and coal-merchanting. He mentions landed property at Esher and Kennington 
in Surrey, at various places near Buxton in Norfolk, and at Wingfield in Suffolk. There is 
reference made to 50 shares in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal. He had no scruples about 
investing in Consols and left numerous cash legacies. The clerks in the bank were not 
forgotten, including one John Overend, later to be the founder of a famous London bank. 
Wright left £ 100 to Sir Benjamin Hammett, ‘which I request him to accept as a token of my 
respect and of the satisfaction I have found in his conduct in the very large transactions 
between us’, but then thought better of it and withdrew this bequest in a codicil. Like 
Hustler and Hardcastle before him, Wright envisaged that the colliery business should 
continue to trade after his death, and the income from it be used to pay the various 
annuities which he bequeathed to his relatives. 

THE COAL-MERCHANTING BUSINESS AT LIVERPOOL 

For the purposes of the accounts the coal-merchanting business at Liverpool was treated 
separately from the collieries, presumably because it was separately managed by Hardcastle 
and then by Berry. This suggests also that the trade at Liverpool did not merely consist of 
selling coal mined at the collieries belonging to the firm, but that the canal-boats also brought 
other people’s coal to Liverpool from Wigan. There are six items of income in the account 
book (pp.1-18, see Table 1), the largest by far being from the sale of house coal, which 
brought in between £402 (1786) and £1,439 (1789). This was sold at six shillings a ton in 
1787 and 1788. Hence in 1786 and 1789, Hardcastle was selling 1,340 tons and 4,796 tons 
respectively. This was the typical Orrell coal from the Orrell Four Foot Seam. More valuable 
was the Smith’s Coal from the Five Foot Seam, which Hardcastle sold to the value of £97 in 
1781 and £314 in 1784. 38 Smith’s Coal fetched 65. 6 c/. in 1789; hence the tonnage sold in 
1781 was 298, and in 1784 was 966. A small quantity of the famous cannel coal was also sold 
at lOs. 6c/. a ton; this may have been mined in Orrell, since according to Anderson there was 
a small seam of it - known locally as ‘hoo’ cannel - there. It is probably more likely, however, 
that it came from elsewhere, since the cannel from Orrell was of an inferior quality and 
would not command the prices quoted above. If this is correct, it is evidence that the firm 
was selling coal from other collieries apart from their own. 39 Sales of cannel ranged from £37 
( 1783) to a mere £6 ( 1788). The firm’s accounts also show that they sold limestone (at seven 
shillings a hundred-weight) in small quantities and also ‘slack and cinders’ (which cost £1 for 
100 baskets of a hundred weight and a half). 40 On the last day of 1789 the accounts show that 
the flats, or flat-bottomed canal boats, had ninety-one tons of paving stones on board. These 
were quarried in the Orrell area and were a significant import to Liverpool at the time. 41 The 

37 T[he] N[ational] Archives], Will of John Wright, proved Prerogative Court, Canterbury, 3/2/1798. 
This is a long and interesting probate record, since Wright left two drafts of his will. 

38 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, p. 16. 

39 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, pp.36, 179. 

40 On the use of slack, see Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, p. 197. 

41 Anderson, Orrell Coalfield, pp. 9-10; John Aiken, Description , p.370. For the development of 
Liverpool trade and the importance of coal, see J. Langton, ‘Liverpool and its Hinterland in the 
Late Eighteenth Century’, in Commerce, Industry and Transport: Studies in Economic Change on 
Merseyside, ed. B. L. Anderson and P. J. M. Stoney (Liverpool, 1983), pp.1-25. 


208 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


accounts also show an unspecified income from boats, which varied from £109 (1784) to 
£335 (1788); presumably this income derived from the transport charges made bringing 
other goods along the canal. The colliery accounts show that the firm owned nine flats: 
Dolphin, Neptune, Venus, Henry Jane, Triton, Speedwell, Argos, Mars and Dean are 
mentioned. The boats were valued in 1788 at £980, for nine boats, which means about £ 109 
each. There were in 1786 a total of 89 boats plying between Wigan and Liverpool, so Hustler 
and Hardcastle had about a ninth of this trade. 42 The boats were subject to quite frequent 
repair and they feature on occasions on the loss side of the accounts for this reason. The 
accounts of the colliery concerns also show an income from the boats (in addition to that 
recorded at Liverpool), presumably because there was a two-way movement of goods. In 
Hustler’s account with the firm, there is a reference on two occasions to payments from 
Hustler to Hardcastle and also to Hardcastle’s associate, Robert Berry, for a ‘parcel of sugar’ 
and then for a ‘cask of sugar’ and also for raisins and plums (p.75), and this may suggest that 
these were the sort of goods which, purchased in Liverpool, could be transported along the 
canal. Presumably these commodities were brought as close to Bradford as possible on the 
canal and then transferred to a carrier. 

The coal sold by Hardcastle in Liverpool must have been bought for domestic and indus- 
trial use in the expanding town itself and its surrounding area. But some was certainly 
exported. As John Aikin reported in 1795, the opening of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal 
afforded ‘such plentiful supplies of coal as greatly to add to the exportation of that 
commodity from this port’. 43 Some of the more intriguing entries in the accounts mention 
the name of Thomas Horne: on 10 March 1787, Hustler appears to have drawn from Horne 
in London the sum of £93 18s. 2<7 (p .75), while at the same time, Hardcastle’s account shows 
an entry in the name of Horne to the value of £250 (p.87); and Wright an entry for £156 135.6(7. 
(p.99). The following year Wright seems to have drawn £404 3s. Sd. (p.101) against an entry in the 
name of Thomas Home and Co., a total sum close to that involved the previous year. Thomas 
Horne was the most prominent coal-factor in London, from (predictably) a Quaker family. It 
may not be too fanciful to interpret these entries in the accounts as showing that Horne 
bought two consignments, in 1787 and 1788, of Wigan coal to sell in London. I know of no 
other evidence to show that, before the advent of the railways, a London coal-merchant was 
able to break the stranglehold on his trade imposed by the lordly Newcastle colliers. It would 
clearly be extremely advantageous for Horne to do so, but the fact that the accounts do not 
show that the experiment (if such it was) was repeated in subsequent years may indicate that 
it was still too expensive to do this, given the long journey by sea that was required. 

The total figures for the net profit made at Liverpool show, as one might expect, some 
rather lean years at the beginning of the firm’s existence but then, from 1784, with the 
establishment of peace and prosperity under the Younger Pitt, a very healthy development 
of profit so that after nearly a decade the firm was roughly twice as profitable as it had been 
at its inception. Fluctuations in the sales at Liverpool presumably also show changes in the 
weather, since house coals represented the bulk of the sales. (See Table 1) 


42 Aiken, Description, p.370. 

43 Aiken, Description, pp.342, 125-6. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


209 


Table 1: ‘Profit and Loss’ of trading concerns at Liverpool 1781-1789 (main items, to nearest £) 



Nett 

Profit 

Profit: 

Totals 

Profit: 

By 

House 

Coal 

Profit: 

By 

Smiths 

Coal 

Profit: 

By 

Cannel 

Profit: 

By 

Slack 

and 

Cinders 

Profit: By 
Limestone 

Account 

Profit: 

By Boat 
Account 

Loss: To 

General 

Expenses 

1781 

£517 

£882 

£454 

£98 

£25 

/ 

£10 

£133 

£365 

1782 

£344 

£795 

£458 

£90 

£19 

/ 

£8 

£170 

£360 

1783 

£481 

£1063 

£791 

£208 

£37 

£26 

145 

£195 

Loss 

£387 

1784 

£785 

£1187 

£692 

£314 

£27 

£21 

£24 

£109 

£402 

1785 

£470 

£1955 

£1758 

£983 

(On 

Loss 

side) 

(?) 

£26 

£22 

£13 Loss 

£149 

£489 

1786 

£444 

£879 

£402 

£112 

£8 

£31 

/ 

£325 

£435 

1787 

£975 

£1397 

£923 

£163 

£22 

£51 

/ 

£237 

£422 

1788 

£1134 

£1642 

£955 

£202 

£6 

£143 

/ 

£336 

£508 

1789 

£871 

£1827 

£1439 

£149 

£16 

£104 

/ 

£115 

£822 

Totals 

1781- 

1789 

£4631 

£11627 

£7870 

£2314 

(?) 

£183 

£396 

£30 

£1271 

£4186 


THE COLLIERY CONCERNS 

The colliery concerns in the Orrell area were valued in the figures for the Nett Estate 
(Table 4) at between three times and twice the value of the trading concerns at Liverpool, 
and this certainly was a larger business. There were three collieries, called the Dean, Orrell 
and Ayrefield Colliery. The latter was clearly the smallest of the pits, while Dean was 
generally more productive than Orrell, although at times Orrell did better (Table 2). Dean 
was in capital terms a more valuable pit than Orrell (Table 3). Mining was obviously a risky 
business and the fluctuations in production presumably represent the development and 
overcoming of real engineering problems in the pits. The accounts also show an income 
from lime and limestone and also from the Yards at Tarleton. To set against the income, the 
collieries required a blacksmith’s shop, a farming and horse account, and there were also 
regular payments to the Douglas Estate, presumably for the use of the Douglas Navigation. 
(See Table 2) 


210 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


The Account Books show a healthy growth in the valuation of the nett estate of the 
colliery concerns. At the end of 1788, the valuation was broken down as shown in Table 
3 (pp. 69-71) 

The pits were valued in terms of their ‘stock, pits, gins, railways, and stock of coals in 
hand’. The railway running from Hustler’s pits to the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was a 
significant feature of the local industrial landscape and an important source of profit for the 
business. 44 One item in the above valuation which requires comment is the size of the debts 
due to the colliery, which represented well over half the total valuation of the business. This 
accords with the evidence of other collieries at around this time. As John Langton 
emphasises, ‘coal masters were forced to act as “longstops” in the system of circulating debt 
and credit, very much as the merchant houses did in the textile industry’. 45 


Table 2: ‘Profit and Loss’ of colliery concerns (main items, to nearest £) 



Balance 

Gained 

(Nett 

Profit) 

Total 

Profit 

Profit by 

Dean 

Colliery 

Profit 

by 

Orrell 

Colliery 

Profit by 

Ayrefield 

Colliery 

Profit by 
Tarleton 
Yards 

Loss by 

Farming 

and 

Horse 

Account 

Loss by 

Account 

of 

Materials 

1782 

£1293 

£1684 

£837 

£446 

£175 

£50 

£116 

£243 

1783 

£1134 

£1975 

£845 

£714 

£199 

£102 

£215 

£626 

1784 

£1290 

£1794 

£592 

£874 

£223 

£29 

£183 

£281 

1785 

£1275 

£2240 

£610 

£1328 

£157 

£15 

£334 

£562 

1786 

£1882 

£2945 

£1288 

£1381 

£81 

£7 

Loss 

£309 

£678 

1787 

£2465 

£3315 

£1428 

£1286 

£295 

/ 

£189 

£581 

1788 

£1653 

£2328 

£1171 

£972 

£62 

/ 

£192 

£423 

1789 

£2375 

£3409 

£1658 

£1121 

£401 

/ 

£40 

£994 

Totals 

1782- 

1789 

£13363 

£19690 

£8423 

£7496 

£1588 

£189 

£1575 

£4384 


44 D. Anderson, ‘Blundell’s Collieries, the Progress of the Business’, Transaction of the Historical 
Society of Lancashire and Cheshire, vol. 116 (1964), p.80; Townley, Smith, and Peden, Industrial 
Railways of the Wigan Coalfields , pp.56-7, 64. 

45 J. Langton, Geographical Change , p.216; Flinn, History , p. 199. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


211 


Table 3: Valuation of colliery concerns, 31 December 1788 


Ayrefield Colliery 

£504 

Dean Colliery 

£3268 

Orrell Colliery 

£1223 

Blacksmith’s shop, tools etc. 

£91 

Farming Stock 

£569 

Boats and 91 tons of paving stones 

£1054 

Stock of sundry materials 

£462 

Debts due to colliery 

£10354 

Total 

£17528 


Another final attempt at valuation was made in 1810 to establish a value at the point when 
the partnership had come to an end four years before in 1806, and this reveals a little more 
about the running of the colliery business. The Amount of the value of the colliery engines, 
implements, machinery, tools, materials and utensils’ was £8,950. In addition there was 
£2,004 worth of ‘ungotten coals ... made available and worked by virtue of the Pits and 
Engines heretofore belonging to the partnership’. A valuable piece of machinery was the 
pumping engine described as ‘Harvey’s Engine’, whose value was put at £730. This enabled 
a valuation of £ 1,093 to be put on ‘the amount of coals under water at Harvey’s Engine in 
1806, but afterwards recovered and gotten by virtue of that Engine and the Pits thereto 
belonging, according to the valuation thereof. The valuation also itemises ‘the value of old 
cast Iron Rails & Sleepers in the Pits called Gaskells Pit & Ashursts Pit’ (£36) and ‘further 
coals ungotten, being 2 Roods & 6 Perches’ (£286). 

PROFITABILITY OF THE BUSINESS 

In their study of the coal industry in the eighteenth century, Ashton and Sykes discussed 
the profits that could be made in the coal business. Their assessment was that, despite the 
grumbles of coal-owners, profits could be very high (up to 46 per cent a year return on 
investment), but that in some years the business could show a loss too. 46 The conclusions 
drawn by M. W. Flinn are more conservative; he speaks of profit being about 30 per cent of 
costs in the eighteenth century and early nineteenth century, and gives a rough figure of 15 
per cent as the profit expressed as a percentage of investment. 47 Both authorities stressed 
the way in which profit could fluctuate quite widely. After some initial difficulties in the 
early 1780s, Hustler and Hardcastle was a profitable concern. The reason for this may lie in 
the way in which Hustler and Hardcastle were able to overcome the ‘struggle’ - as Flinn puts 
it - between those in charge of production and those in control of marketing, which 


46 T. S. Ashton andj. Sykes, The Coal Industries of the Eighteenth Century (Manchester, 1929), 
pp. 245-6. 

47 Flinn, History, pp. 323-6. On the declining profits of the late eighteenth century, see J. Langton, 
‘Landowners and the development of coal mining in south-west Lancashire, 1590-1799’, in Change 
in the Countryside: Essays on Rural England, 1590-1900 \ ed. H.S.A. Fox & R. A. Butlin (London, 
1979), pp. 136-9. 


212 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


especially in the North-East coalfields could drive down profits. 48 Hustler and Hardcastle’s 
business was organised on the same lines as those of the Blundells and other Orrell colliers. 
Not only was the Leeds and Liverpool Canal a significant asset for the Wigan coal-miners, 
but it was central to their operations. It is difficult to imagine a better example of an inte- 
grated business, with production, transport and marketing all in the same hands. Hustler 
and Hardcastle worked the mines, transported the coal and then sold it at Liverpool. They 
owned a large number of shares in the canal, and the coal and other goods they transported 
along the canal helped (through tolls) to produce the handsome dividends their canal shares 
earned. The danger for a producer is that the profit is mainly earned by the merchant who 
sells the goods, or by those who transport them; but the organisation of the coal business in 
West Lancashire prevented this. As was the way in the eighteenth century, the capital invest- 
ment also belonged to the partners, or was raised on terms which gave the partners a great 
deal of leeway in its use: since Hustler was a Quaker like Wright, the investment Wright made 
was more precious to Hustler but also more secure. The Quakers were not exclusive, how- 
ever, and their relations with Hardcastle and Holt Leigh, not to mention Blundell, Robinson 
and Berry, were crucial to the development of the business. The organisation of the worsted 
trade in Bradford was rather like that of the coal industry in Wigan: the woolstapler was 
responsible for purchasing wool, transporting it, combing it, and then selling it on to the 
clothiers. The development of an integrated coal business between Wigan and Liverpool has 
certain parallels with the development of woolstapling in Yorkshire, and one system may 
have influenced the other. The growth of Hustler and Hardcastle’s enterprise is clear from 
the figures given above for the profit made in the 1780s (Tables 1 & 2), and also from the 
steady growth in the ‘nett estate’ of the business (See Table 4). At first, progress may have 
been difficult, and the firm itself was set up in response to the need to bring in Wright’s 
capital and to replace partners who for one reason or another had fallen by the wayside. The 
reason for this would seem to be that the Orrell Five Feet Seam had largely been worked out, 
and that mining had now to proceed to a deeper level to reach the Four Feet Seam. This was 
not only costly but also, of course, a risky business since the extent of the seam was un- 
known. But the growth in the late 1780s seems to have been very sharp and this continued 
into the next two decades. The accounts only show profit and loss down to the death of 
Hardcastle in 1789 but the figures showing the growth of the nett estate and the separate 
accounts for each partner are very healthy. The price of coal in Liverpool effectively dou- 
bled in the 1790s, and the Orrell pits were still able to handle this level of demand. The really 
profitable days came after all three original partners had died; but even before that, the 
return on the initial investment was very good. 

It is very difficult to quantify the profit made by Hustler and Hardcastle. Perhaps the most 
satisfactory approach is to look at the ‘nett profit’ (Tables 1 & 2) in relation to the invest- 
ments made by each of the partners. If we take the figures given for the nett profit at 
Liverpool and at the collieries as representing the return on investment, then the totals for 
the eight years for which there are detailed records (1782-89) make an average of £578 at 
Liverpool each year and an average of £1,670 at Orrell. So, the average return was about 
£750 for each of the three investors. Now, if the initial investment were only £2,900 each, 


48 Flinn, History, ch.8. 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


213 


Table 4: Nett Estate of Hustler, Hardcastle & Co., 1781-1789 


Date (Dec 31, 

Nett Estate of 

Nett Estate of 

unless 

trading 

Colliery 

otherwise 

concerns at 

Concerns 

stated) 

Liverpool 
(nearest £) 

(nearest £) 

1781 

£2506 


1782 

£2851 

£9625 

1783 

£3332 

£9012 

1784 

£4117 

£10,120 

1785 

£4587 

£11,328 

1786 

£5031 

£13,141 

1787 

£6006 

£15,607 

1788 

£8053 

£17,528 

6 July 1789 

£8488 

£18,716 


this represents an average return of somewhat over 25 per cent a year on the investment. 
Even shares in the Leeds and Liverpool canal could not match that. At first the business may 
not have seemed so healthy, though, and it is worth bearing in mind that early in the 1780s 
Hustler was mortgaging his property and his canal shares and that Thomas Hardcastle’s 
relative William Hardcastle’s bank was going bankrupt. Much of the income was, however, 
at first ploughed back into the firm and not taken as profit or income by the partners. Again, 
this is a feature of the coal industry on which Flinn comments in his comprehensive survey. 49 
It was always possible for the economy to turn down and for Liverpool demand to slacken; 
the weather presumably affected the sales of coal at Liverpool, and a few mild winters in 
succession would not be good for trade. The mines could meet with problems, mainly in the 
form of floodwater or some geological difficulty. What was more, the business was 
extending what seem to be huge sums on credit to its customers and this made the certainty 
of profit a little difficult to predict. The tradition in any case was for businesses to plough 
back profit. The accounts contain for both the collieries and the Liverpool business several 
pages setting out the ‘Nett Estate’ of the business (Table 4). This accounting measure 
consisted of the value of the capital assets of the firm (presumably close at first to the 
investment of the partners) and then the annual profit added into the sum. This seems a 
curious accounting device, except on the assumption that plough-back was more or less the 
accepted way in which profit would be taken. However, the partners did take some of their 
profit as income, and this is recorded in the third section of the accounts which gives a 
credit and debit statement for each of the partners. These show that at first little profit was 
actually taken out, but that in the 1790s and 1800s larger and larger sums were distributed as 
dividend to the executors, heirs and assigns of the original partners. (See Table 5) 

These figures show that the firm was remarkably profitable. In the years 1782-89 it 
allowed the partners to draw on average £489 p.a. each. (They were therefore ploughing 
back roughly a third of the total profit). In the years 1790-99 the partners (or their 


49 


Flinn, History, pp.210-11. 


214 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


executors) were making on average £867 p.a., and in the final period of the business’s 
history (1799-1810) they were making £2,010 a year each. This all sprang from initial 
investments by each partner in 1781 of (probably) £2,900, and hence represents a very 
healthy return. It also involved profiting from the lifetime’s experience of three very able 
entrepreneurs of the Industrial Revolution. The pity was that not one of the partners lived to 
see the really profitable days of the 1800s. 

Recent discussion of the Industrial Revolution has centred around the ‘proto-industrial’ 
development of the economy, especially in the wool and also the coal industries. According 
to this view, development here was slow and hardly revolutionary, and it built on earlier 


Table 5: Sums debited by the partners of Hustler, Hardcastle & Co. and their executors, 
1782-1810 



Hustler 

Hardcastle 

Wright 

Total 

1782 

£188 

£401 

£109 

£698 

1783 

£258 

£150 

£150 

£558 

1784 

£200 

£300 

£99 

£599 

1785 

£102 

£100 

£100 

£302 

1786 

£318 

£300 

£300 

£918 

1787 

£824 

£1100 

£600 

£2524 

1788 

£1047 

£1050 

£1302 

£3399 

1789 

£906 

£925 

£921 

£2752 

1790 

£1043 

£400 

£900 

£2343 

1791 

£982 

£1008 

£1000 

£2990 

1792 

£1800 

£1800 

£1800 

£5400 

1793 

£600 

£600 

£600 

£1800 

1794 

£1000 

£1000 

£1000 

£3000 

1795 

£800 

£800 

£800 

£2400 

1796 

£509 

£500 

£500 

£1509 

1797 

£1000 

£761 

£1000 

£2761 

1798 

£600 

£1100 

£400 

£2100 

1799 

£500 

£510 

£700 

£1710 

1800 

£1700 

£1700 

£1700 

£5100 

1801 

£1000 

£1000 

£1000 

£3000 

1802 

£800 

£800 

£800 

£2400 

1803 

£2000 

£2000 

£2000 

£6000 

1804 

£4000 

£3500 

£3500 

£11000 

1805 

£2815 

£3505 

£3000 

£9315 

1806 

£4685 

£4494 

£5000 

£14179 

1807 

£3872 

£3872 

£3872 

£11616 

1808 

£293 

£292 

£292 

£877 

1809 

£735 

£735 

£735 

£2205 

1810 

£222 

£222 

£222 

£666 

Totals 

£34799 

£34925 

£34402 

£104,121 


AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER 


215 


developments going back centuries. The stress on local studies perhaps reinforces this view 
- in certain regions particular specialisms grew from the traditional fields in which 
excellence had been fostered there over the centuries. But consideration of the career of 
John Hustler shows that development was not always parochial or based on tradition. Two 
generations away from yeoman farming at Steeton in Yorkshire, Hustler had the confidence 
to act on a national stage. He, in combination with Hardcastle, was prepared to move from 
Yorkshire into the Lancashire coalfield and to develop a coai-merchanting business in 
Liverpool. In this he also moved away from his family’s trade, woolstapling, and he called 
upon financial resources and connections in London. He also made (if my interpretation is 
correct) contact with a London coal-merchant in an effort to undercut the supply of the 
capital’s coals from Newcastle. In all this he was taking advantage of the transport links 
which his enterprise, and that of his colleagues in Yorkshire and Lancashire, had deliber- 
ately forged across the Pennines. Bradford was ideally placed to connect Yorkshire to Lan- 
cashire, and from Undercliffe House, Bradford, Hustler could supervise a business in coal 
which had its impact across the whole country. 




















Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


217 


CURRENTS OF ELECTORAL INDEPENDENCE: JAMES 
LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK, 

c.1865-1880 1 

Matthew Roberts 

This article focuses on electoral politics in the borough of York and uses the political 
career of James Lowther, Conservative MP for York (1865-1880), as a case study to explore 
the continuing importance of local and regional issues in mid-Victorian provincial politics. 
Although the mid-Victorian years saw the re-emergence of parliamentary reform and other 
momentous political issues, there remained considerable electoral value in appealing to 
civic ideologies of independence and protecting local rights and privileges. Lowther was 
able to construct a broad-based coalition of voters by drawing on, and reworking, eighteenth- 
century traditions of electoral independence. As such, this article sets Lowther’s electoral 
politics within the context of the long’ eighteenth century: the persistence of local issues 
and independency, the reactionary nature of his politics and the pre-industrial composition 
of the York electorate, all point to a political culture that was more akin to the pre-1832 
‘unreformed system’ than to the ostensibly ‘ modernised ’, ‘nationalised’ and disciplined world 
of Victorian popular politics. The article concludes by locating York within the wider context 
of the mid-Victorian electoral system and highlights some of the different types of continuities 
that exist between Georgian and Victorian popular politics. 

‘You determined to have a Yorkshireman for York, and now you have him. You have vindicated 
the great principle of local representation, and it is no longer possible for anybody to come 
down here and tread on your rights.’ 2 

So spoke James Lowther on his election to represent the city of York in 1868. In tracing 
the development of popular politics across the nineteenth century, historians have subscribed 
to one of two interpretations. On the one hand, there are those historians who argue that the 
period witnessed the birth of a modern system of party politics in which ‘political principle 
defined in national terms by the parties at Westminster took the place of the local, factional, 
and idiosyncratic concerns’ that had characterised the previous system. 3 While this school 
of historians may disagree over the timing of this development, central to all these accounts 


1 I should like to thank Jon Lawrence, Matthew McCormack, Edward Royle, Tony Taylor and 
the participants of the history research seminars at the Universities of Huddersfield and York 
for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this article. 

2 Yorkshire Gazette [ YG\, 21 Nov. 1868. 

3 J. A. Phillips and C. Wetherell, ‘The Great Reform Act of 1832 and the political modernisation 
of England’, American Historical Review , 100 (1995), 411-36, at p. 415. 


218 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


are narratives of nationalisation, modernisation and homogenisation. 4 The Reform Acts of 
1832 and 1867, the associated growth of centralised party machines and a burgeoning 
partisan press, are all cited as reasons for the creation of this nationalised political culture. 

On the other hand, these narratives have been challenged, especially by historians of the 
‘unreformed system’ of later Hanoverian and early Victorian England. Frank O’Gorman has 
argued that local issues remained paramount in popular politics at least up to, if not beyond, 
1832. Indeed, he views the period from 1689 to 1866 as one of continuity and relative 
stability. 5 Similarly, James Vernon has shown that political parties in Westminster after 1832 
were widely rejected in the nation in favour of local, idiosyncratic leaders, symbols and 
loyalties, although it is not clear how long this persisted. 6 Also following in O’Gorman’s 
footsteps is Rosemary Sweet’s work on early nineteenth-century English borough politics. 
As she convincingly argues, ‘even in an age of political reform and nationalisation there was 
still considerable value in appealing to the civic ideology of independence, chartered rights 
and freemen’s privileges’, each of which ‘derived their meaning from a sense of local urban 
identity and tradition.’ 7 Since much of this work emphasises the participatory, popular and 
even partisan nature of the ‘unreformed’ system - Vernon goes so far as to suggest that the 
old system was more democratic than the system that replaced it - this contradicts the 
notion of a linear shift to a modernised, nationalised and democratic political culture. For all 
that local issues often predominated in the unreformed system, as the work of John Brewer, 
Nicholas Rogers and Kathleen Wilson has made clear, urban voters were also aware of 
national and even international issues. 8 

What is not clear from this historiography is just how far local issues continued to shape 
the form and content of popular politics beyond 1832. While there exists an older 
historiography that emphasised the parochial and locally-based nature of Victorian elections, 
it was more concerned with exploring the structural determinants of voting behaviour - 
such as religious identity, occupation and broader loyalties to urban elites - rather than with 

4 P. F. Clarke, ‘Electoral sociology of modern Britain’, History, , 57 (1972), 31-55;J. P. D. Dunbabin, 
‘British elections in the 19th and 20th centuries: a regional approach’, English Historical Review, 
95 (1980), 241-67; G. Cox, ‘The development of a party-orientated electorate in England, 1832— 
1918’, British Journal of Political Science, 16 (1986), 187-216; H.J. Hanham, Elections and Party 
Management in the Age of Gladstone and Disraeli (Hassocks, 1978 edn); E. Evans, Political 
Parties in Britain 1783-1867 (London, 1985); A. Hawkins, “‘Parliamentary Government” and 
Victorian political parties, C.1830-C.1880’, English Historical Review, 104 (1989), 638-69; Phillips 
and Wetherell, ‘The Great Reform Act’. 

5 F. O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons and Parties: the unreformed electorate of Hanoverian England, 
1734-1832 (Oxford, 1989); F. O’Gorman, ‘Campaign rituals and ceremonies: the social meaning 
of elections in England, 1780-1860’, Past and Present, 135 (1992), 79-115. 

6 J. Vernon, Politics and the People: a study in English political culture, c. 1815- 1867 (Cambridge, 
1993), pp. 99, 163-4. 

7 R. Sweet, ‘Freemen and independence in English borough politics, c.1770-1830’, Past and 
Present, 161 (1998), 84-115, at p. 84. 

8 N. Rogers, Whigs and Cities: popular politics in the age of Walpole and Pitt (Oxford, 1989); J. 
Brewer, Party Ideology and Popular Politics at the Accession of George III (Cambridge, 1976); 
K. Wilson, The Sense of the People: politics, culture and imperialism in England, 1715-1785 
(Cambridge, 1995). 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


219 


looking at the role of civic ideology. 9 This article adopts a case study approach to explore 
the role of civic and political ideologies of electoral independence (the customary means by 
which a constituency liberated itself from local oligarchies and defended its local privileges 
in the face of a centralising state). It uses electoral politics in York between 1865 and 1880, 
and, more specifically, the political career of the Tory MP James Lowther, to illustrate the 
continuing importance of civic and provincial loyalties in mid-Victorian popular politics. It 
relies heavily on the Yorkshire Gazette , a York-based Tory newspaper, to examine the 
public rhetoric used by Lowther and the Tories on the electoral platform during the 1860s 
and 1870s - a period for which historical knowledge of urban Conservatism remains limited, 
especially beyond Lancashire. 10 By locating Lowther’s platform within the context of 
eighteenth-century electoral independence the article highlights the continuities between 
Georgian and Victorian popular politics. In doing so, attention is drawn to the contested 
and fluid nature of mid-Victorian popular politics. Indeed, the success of Lowther and his 
brand of popular Toryism was indicative of the limits to, and fragility of, the so-called 
Liberal hegemony of mid-Victorian Britain. 


I 

The Parliamentary borough of York returned two MPs to the House of Commons. 11 In 
1841 the borough had a population of 30,152, and by 1871 this had increased to 50,765. 12 
Despite this population growth, by the 1830s the demographic and industrial expansion of 


9 J. Vincent, Pollbooks: how Victorians voted (Cambridge, 1967); T.J. Nossiter, Influence, Opinion 
and Political Idioms in Reformed England: case studies from the North East, 1832-1874 
(Hassocks, 1975); P. F. Clarke, ‘Electoral sociology’. For a recent critical review of this literature 
see M. Taylor, ‘Interests, parties and the state: the urban electorate in England, c. 1820-72’, in J. 
Lawrence and M. Taylor (eds), Party, State and Society: election behaviour in Britain since 1820 
(Aldershot, 1997), pp. 50-78. 

I0 J. L. Greenall, ‘Popular Conservatism in Salford, 1868-1886’, Northern History , 9 (1974), 1 23— 
138; P. Joyce, Work, Society and Politics: the culture of the factory in later Victorian England 
(London, 1982), esp. ch. 8; N. Kirk, Labour and Society in Britain and the USA, vol. 2: Change 
and Accommodation, 1850-1939 (Aldershot, 1994), pp. 188-197; D. Walsh, ‘Working-class 
political integration and the Conservative party: a study of class relations and party political 
development in the North-West, 1800-1870’, (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Salford, 
1991). Beyond Lancashire the notable exception is Jon Lawrence’s work on Wolverhampton. 
See his ‘Popular politics and the limitations of party: Wolverhampton, 1867-1900’, in E. F. 
Biagini and A. J. Reid (eds), Currents of Radicalism: popular radicalism, organised labour and 
party politics in Britain, 1850-1914 (Cambridge, 1991), pp. 65-85. 

11 Each elector had two votes which he could use in one of four ways: by casting his two votes 
for the two candidates of one party (a ‘straight’); by giving a single vote if a party fielded only 
one candidate (a partisan ‘plump’), thus wasting the second vote; by casting one vote for one 
candidate of each party (a ‘split’); or he could cast only one vote (a non-partisan ‘plump’) 
despite there being two candidates for a particular party. Phillips and Wetherell, ‘The Great 
Reform Act’, pp. 416-17. 

Figures cited in C. H. Feinstein, ‘Population, occupations and economic development, 1831 — 
1981’, in C. H. Feinstein (ed.), York 1831-1981: 150 years of scientific endeavour and social 
change (York, 1981), pp. 109-59, at p. 111. 


220 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


neighbouring towns was outstripping that of York. Consequently, the city was thought to be 
in a state of decline. York is best described as a medium-sized borough whose population 
and electorate was much larger than the so-called ‘small-towns’, such as nearby 
Knaresborough, Northallerton and Richmond, but smaller than those rapidly expanding 
industrial centres to be found in the West Riding and over the Pennines. In this respect York 
was similar - economically, socially and politically - to other county, cathedral or large 
market towns such as Bristol and Lancaster. York had a fairly broad industrial base. In 1851 
it had three main sources of employment: 19.3 per cent of the population were employed in 
manufacturing (composed mainly of handicrafts and small-scale workshops); the next largest 
sector was domestic service employing 17 per cent; and 14.8 per cent were engaged in 
making and dealing in clothes and shoes. The other half or so of the population was employed 
in a variety of industries, including farming, the railways, construction, distribution and in 
the professions. 13 The city was also an important market and commercial centre serving a 
large agricultural hinterland that penetrated deep into the North and East Ridings. In terms 
of its politics, York was a marginal borough throughout the nineteenth century: of the 
seventeen elections that took place between 1832 and 1885 on only two occasions did one 
of the two parties win both seats. 14 

The impacts of both the 1832 and 1867 Reform Acts on York were not as far-reaching 
as they were in other neighbouring boroughs. This was because York was a pre-1832 borough 
in which many adult males already qualified for the vote as freemen, an ancient voting right 
that was conferred by chartered boroughs on those connected with an incorporated trade. 
Between 1832 and 1867 borough residents could qualify for the vote in one of two ways: 
either through the occupation of a household rated at a rental value of £ 10 per annum and 
above, or by the possession of freeman status. Older boroughs, that is those that predated 
the 1832 Reform Act, such as York, contained both types of voter, whilst the new boroughs, 
such as neighbouring Leeds, contained only the new £10 householders. 15 The freeman 
franchise could be acquired in a number of ways. Prior to the 1832 Reform Act local 
corporations had the power to create freemen, a privilege that was frequently abused. After 
1832 the vote could be acquired either through inheritance (sons of freemen were granted 
voting rights at the age of 21 ) or through servitude (a seven year apprenticeship to a freeman 
brought the privilege). 16 The 1832 Reform Act abolished only the voting rights of all non- 
resident freemen, future honorary freemen or freemen by marriage. 1 " Neither was it a voting 
right that was limited to those who did not qualify as £ 10 householders - the new franchise 
qualification introduced by the Reform Act. As Philip Salmon has shown, in a number of 
boroughs there were electors who qualified both as £10 householders and as ancient-right 
voters and that many of these dual-qualifiers opted for the latter voting right because it was 

13 Feinstein, ‘Population, occupations and economic development’, p. 122. 

14 This was in 1832 and 1880 when the Liberals won both of the York seats. 

15 Taylor, ‘Interests, parties and the state’, p. 55. 

16 On the operation of the freeman franchise see: C. Seymour, Electoral Reform in England and 
Wales: the development and operation of the parliamentary franchise 1832-1885 (London, 
1915), pp. 27-8; and for a more recent and authoritative account see Philip Salmon, Electoral 
Reform at Work: local politics and national parties, 1832-1841 (Woodbridge, 2002), pp 200-6. 

17 Salmon, Electoral Reform at Work , p. 203. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


221 


‘not dependent upon prompt rate payment or the 1 5. registration fee’ as was the case with the 
householder qualification. 18 It would, therefore, be wrong to exaggerate the decline of the 
freemen electors, especially in York. Whilst 78.3 per cent of York electors qualified as 
freemen in 1836, by 1866 some 54.4 per cent of York’s electorate was still composed of 
freemen - the third highest in England. 19 

Consequently, there was a relatively large body of enfranchised skilled artisans, who were 
employed chiefly in handicrafts and small-scale workshops. Since many had exercised this 
voting right under the ‘unreformed’ system, the effects of the 1832 Reform Act were negligible. 
At the time of the 1830 general election there were over 3,000 registered electors in York, 
and after the Reform Act the York electorate stood at 2,873. If anything, the Reform Act may 
have contracted the electorate: at the 1830 general election the two leading candidates 
between them secured 3,837 votes; in 1832 this figure had fallen to 2,645 - out of electorate 
of 2,873, which hardly suggests that a low turn out in 1832 was responsible for the 
contraction. 20 The 1867 Reform Act had more of an impact on York relative to 1832, but not 
relative to elsewhere. Whereas the electorate of Leeds was more than quadrupled by the 
1867 Reform Act, at York it was little more than doubled. By 1861 42.4 per cent of adult 
males were registered to vote in York, second only to Coventry with 51.6 per cent. 21 Indeed, 
there was no contraction of the York electorate between the Reform Acts of 1832 and 1867. 
Again, this was comparable with other freemen boroughs where the local economy was 
predominantly based on incorporated trades, such as Coventry, Nottingham and Preston, 
although the freeman vote did begin to fall away in the two latter places from the 1840s 
which was in line with the overall national contraction of the electorate between 1832 and 
1867. 22 

Thus, when the youngjames Lowther (aged twenty-five) arrived at York in the summer of 
1865, there existed a long-standing political culture that was just as ‘participatory, partisan, 
and popular’ as the unreformed system of Hanoverian England. 23 More specifically, there 
was a strong local tradition of support for the Conservative party, which was underpinned 
by a broad-based coalition composed of middle-class Anglicans, local gentry and artisans. 
Lowther had been invited to York in consequence of the resignation of Colonel J. G. Smyth, 
who had represented York in the Tory interest since 1847. At first glance, Lowther was a 
surprising and most unlikely figure to be at the centre of a participatory popular politics. 
Born in 1840, he was the younger son of Sir Charles Hugh Lowther, of Swillington House, 
Leeds. His father was the head of a younger branch of the Lonsdale family, and Lowther 

IH Salmon, Electoral Reform at Work, pp. 200-1. 

19 Taylor, ‘Interests, parties and the state’, pp. 58-9. 

20 Figures taken from The Times , 31 July and 6 August 1830; F. S. W. Craig, British Parliamentary 
Election Results, 1832-1885 (2nd edn, Aldershot, 1989), p. 346. 

21 Taylor, ‘Interests, parties and the state’, pp. 58-9. 

22 Taylor, ‘Interests, parties and the state’, p. 60. It has been argued that the contraction of the 
electorate was not due to the 1832 Reform Act itself, which actually opened up many new 
possibilities for public participation. Rather, as Mark Park has argued, it ‘was largely the result of 
people voluntarily deciding not to participate’. See his: ‘Aspects of the English electoral system, 
1800-50: with special reference to Yorkshire’, (unpublished PhD thesis, University of York, 
1995), p. 75. Clearly, York was also the exception to this trend. 

23 O’Gorman, Voters, Parties and Patrons, p. 393. 


9,9.9 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


himself was the grandnephew of the first Earl of Lonsdale. The epitome of a traditional and 
defiant Toryism, throughout his life Lowther ‘championed the uncompromising principles 
of conservatism in which he was bred’. 24 He was firmly identified, by birth and temperament, 
with the Tory country gentleman. 25 So defiant was his Toryism that he was credited with 
being the originator of the mischievous tactics of parliamentary obstruction - tactics which 
the Irish members were quick to imitate. 26 His maiden speech in Parliament was delivered 
in opposition to the abortive 1866 Reform Bill, and for a time he thought seriously about 
voting against Disraeli’s 1867 Reform Bill until his uncle’s influence prevailed on him to 
accept the measure, but not before he made some disparaging remarks about Disraeli. 27 
Recalling a train journey he had taken with Lowther in 1887, Alfred Pease, York’s future 
Liberal MP, gave the following character assessment of Lowther: 

Travelled north with Jim Lowther who was regarded as the chief of the remaining real 
Tories. ..He is very good company. The conversation was chiefly on racing, turf problems and 
the prize ring.. .He was on his way to a Primrose League 28 meeting. He damned the Primrose 
League with many expletives as a “dangerous innovation” and referred to Beaconsfield as “that 
damned Jew, Dizzy. 28 

Lowther was certainly no Tory Democrat and there appeared to be little about him that 
would endear him to a popular electorate. Little was known of him when he came to York, 
save for his family name. His uncle, John Henry Lowther, had represented the borough in 
the Tory interest from 1835 to 1848, thereby forging a political connection between the 
family and the borough. Yet for all that the young Lowther could trade on his family name, 
few could have predicted the outcome of the 1865 election. Against all expectations, and in 
defiance of the national trend, he was returned at the head of the poll securing 2,079 votes, 
beating by 225 votes George Leeman - the local Liberal solicitor and railway promoter - 
who took the second seat and in the process unseated the sitting Liberal member, Brown- 
Westhead, a Manchester manufacturer turned Worcestershire gentleman, who had 
represented York since 1857. 30 Even more remarkable was that Lowther repeated the coup 


24 James Lowther (1840-1904)’, in [DJictionary of [Njational [Bjiography 1901 -191 1 (Oxford, 1920), 
pp. 482-4, at p. 482. 

25 E. J. Feuchtwanger, Disraeli, Democracy and the Tory party: Conservative leadership and 
organisation after the Second Reform Bill (Oxford, 1968), p. 70. 

26 Feuchtwanger, Disraeli, Democracy and the Tory party , p. 237. 

27 ‘Lowther’, DNB, pp. 482-3. 

28 The Primrose League, a voluntary organisation established in November 1883 in honour of 
Disraeli’s memory. Its objective was the promotion of Tory principles among the masses ‘viz. the 
maintenance of religion, of the estates of the realm, and of the Imperial Ascendancy of Great 
Britain’. On the Primrose League see: M. Pugh, The Tories and the People 1880-1935 (Oxford, 
1985). 

29 A. E. Pease, Elections and Recollections (London, 1932), pp. 191-2. 

30 The voting was as follows (figures from York Poll Book, 1865. Published by John Brown (York, 
1865), p. 6): 

Lowther plumpers: 1,919 Leeman plumpers: 22 

splits with Leeman: 106 splits with Lowther: 106 

splits with Westhead: 52 splits with Westhead: 716 

2,077 (decl. poll was 2,079) 1,844 (decl. poll was 1,854) 


Westhead plumpers: 3 
splits with Leeman: 1,7 16 
splits with Lowther: 52 
1,781 (decl. poll was 1,792) 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


223 


at the 1868 general election when he actually increased his majority at an election that was 
the first to take place after the enfranchisement of all rate-paying adult male occupiers in the 
boroughs, after the 1867 Reform Act. Lowther headed the poll with 3,735 votes, followed by 
Brown-Westhead who took the second seat with 3,279 votes, beating off John Hall Gladstone, 
a distant relative of the Liberal leader, who was nominated instead of Leeman - the latter 
having retired due to ill-health. 31 For all that the 1868 general election witnessed the triumph 
of Liberalism across the nation, it was a qualified triumph in that the election also revealed 
pockets of working-class Conservatism - pockets that had been growing in strength 
throughout the 1860s, and not just in Lancashire, as the York victories testified. Even in 
neighbouring Leeds, which was regarded as a Liberal stronghold, the Conservative candidate 
topped the poll at the 1865 general election and, while their candidate was relegated to third 
place in 1868, the Conservatives nevertheless tripled their share of the popular vote. 32 How 
were the Conservatives able to achieve their electoral coup in York? 

The participatory and partisan nature of the York electorate begins to cast doubt on the 
applicability of conventional interpretations of mid-Victorian election behaviour. There 
was little that was sleepy and insular about the York electorate, and neither was it riddled 
with corruption or controlled by influential patrons - characteristics which were thought 
until recently to be the hallmarks of politics in ancient boroughs in mid-Victorian Britain. 33 
There had been a highly developed sense of party in York since the early nineteenth century, 
if not before, when those excluded from the town’s public affairs (mostly Tories) challenged 
the Whigs who controlled the old closed borough corporation. 34 This partisanship fuelled, 
and was fuelled by, regular parliamentary and municipal contests. The high level of 
partisanship was evident: at the 1865 general election only 4.1 per cent of the electorate split 
their votes between the two parties; the figures in 1868 and 1880 were only 3.4 per cent and 
4.6 per cent respectively. 35 

Similarly, as research on the reformed electoral system has convincingly demonstrated, it 
is unlikely that bribery determined voter allegiance on any significant scale since ‘treating’ 
was an integral part of electioneering, with both Conservatives and Liberals participating. 
As John Markham has argued in his study of nineteenth-century elections in East Yorkshire, 
‘voters saw it as right and natural that they should be recompensed for their support’ and 


31 The voting was as follows (figures from York Poll Book, 1868. Published by John Brown (York, 

1868), p. 6): 

Lowther plumpers: 3,504 Gladstone plumpers: 5 Westhead plumpers: 59 

splits with Gladstone: 22 splits with Lowther: 22 splits with Gladstone: 3,01 1 

splits with Westhead: 209 splits with Westhead: 3,011 splits with Lowther: 22 

3,735 3,038 3,279 

32 For Leeds see M. Roberts, ‘Villa Toryism and popular Conservatism in Leeds, 1885-1902’, 
Historical Journal \ 49 (forthcoming, 2006). 

33 E. Jaggard, ‘Small town politics in mid-Victorian Britain’, History . , 89 (2004), 3-29. 

34 A. Peacock, ‘George Leeman and York politics, 1833-1880’, in Feinstein (ed.), York 1831- 
1981 , pp. 234-54, at p. 234. 

35 Figures calculated from the 1865 and 1868 York Poll Books and the YG , 10 April 1880. 
Partisanship was also markedly high in ‘unreformed’ York: at the 1818 general election only 3 
per cent of electors had split their votes. (O’Gorman, Voters, Patrons and Parties , p. 370). 


224 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


that ‘corrupt practices brought no more than a marginal advantage to any one party’. 36 There 
is evidence to suggest that both parties in York resorted to forms of intimidation and 
corruption, and there were accusations and counter-accusations that each side had 
‘purchased’ support. In the aftermath of the 1865 general election it was alleged that Brown- 
Westhead, the Liberal candidate, had spent large sums of money buying votes, but this had 
not prevented Lowther from topping the poll. 3/ In 1868 the Liberals believed that they had 
been victims of immoral and illegal influences. The Liberal York Herald w as of the view that 
Lowther’s support ‘has been found through gold and silver, through intimidation, and through 
Bacchanalian revelry’. 38 The Liberals lodged a petition with Parliament to have Lowther 
removed, but this came to nothing due to lack of evidence. 39 The limits of ‘corruption’ were 
demonstrated at the 1880 general election when Lowther was defeated despite having officially 
spent over £4,390, the equivalent of over one pound for each vote. 40 Alfred Pease later 
recalled that Lowther, in an attempt to dissuade Pease from spending any money on his York 
constituents, had told him that the 1880 election had cost him over £7,000. 41 Corruption 
was at best a lubricant that oiled the electoral machinery. 

What then of explanations based on religion? In a city where the Church of England was 
the strongest of the religious denominations - nearly half of York’s church-going population, 
according to the 1851 Religious Census, went to Church as opposed to Chapel - one has to 
conclude that Lowther must have benefited from the Conservative party’s image as the 
defender of the Church. 42 However, the Anglican community were neither a self-sufficient 
constituency of electoral support, nor was it innately Conservative. There was a strong 
minority tradition in York of Anglican support for the Liberal party, despite the latter’s 
increasing association with Nonconformity, both nationally and in York. 43 In addition, 
although York was identified with the Church of England through its Cathedral, its position 
in the diocese and northern Province, it is important not to exaggerate the power of 
Anglicanism. Granted, the Church of England was by far the largest single denomination, 
but it was relatively weak when compared with other similar towns. Nonetheless, defence of 
the Established Church was undoubtedly a central plank in Lowther’s platform. This took 
the form of opposition to the abolition of church rates in 1865, to the disestablishment of 
the Irish Church in 1868 and to the supposed threat to denomination schools in 1874, along 
with a more general defence of the ‘National Church’ in the face of secularists, atheists and 
disestablishmentarians. 44 Yet for all the emphasis that Lowther and the Tories placed on 
religious issues, it would be easy to exaggerate their importance as determinants of voting 
behaviour. For example, having personally conducted a canvass of the York electors prior to 
the 1868 election, Lowther remarked that very few voters troubled themselves about the 

36 J. Markham, Nineteenth-century Parliamentary Elections in East Yorkshire (Beverley, 1982), 
pp. 4 and 41. 

37 Peacock, ‘George Leeman’, pp. 248-50. 

38 York Herald [ YH\, 21 Nov. 1868. 

39 Peacock, ‘George Leeman’, p. 250. 

40 Feuchtwanger, Disraeli, Democracy and the Tory party, p. 205. 

41 Pease, Recollections, p. 141. 

42 Figures calculated from H. Mann, Religious Worship in England and Wales (London, 1854). 

43 YG, 31 Jan. 1874. 

44 YG, 8 Apr. 1865; 8 Aug. 1868; 31 Jan. 1874. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


225 


impending disestablishment of the Irish Church, but as if to counter, it was remarked upon 
by the Liberals that working men seemed fully conversant with the issue. 45 Either way, 
Lowther’s election victories were hardly tantamount to an endorsement of Disraeli’s attempt 
to put the Established Church at the centre of popular politics. 46 Given the working-class 
bias of the York electorate, allied to the fact that Anglicanism in York, as was the case 
elsewhere, was disproportionately middle class, it is fair to conclude that Lowther secured 
significant working-class support for reasons other than religious affiliation, which was at 
best only one aspect of popular political identity. 47 As C. S. Ford has argued in relation to 
south-east Lancashire - an area that was previously thought to be the epitome of sectarian 
Conservatism - ‘the Conservative party was concerned to widen its base and not to be 
associated by the electorate exclusively with the Church of England’. 48 Similarly, revisionist 
work on Liverpool has concluded that: ‘It is surprisingly difficult to locate any explicit 
appeal to sectarian identities within the formal political discourse of Liverpool Conserv atism 
during the late nineteenth century.’ 49 Lowther’s bigotry aside, when he first came before the 
York electorate in 1865 he ‘wished it to be distinctly understood that, although a Churchman, 
he was in favour of perfect civil and religious liberty, and free toleration to all sects and 
creeds’. 50 At the 1880 general election Lowther, by then Irish Chief Secretary in the 
Conservative government, was urging the English and the Irish to come together ‘without 
distinction of class and race, without distinction of nations, [to] lend a helping hand to 
Ireland’. 51 While this may have been little more than specious rhetoric, there is little evidence 
to suggest that Lowther tapped into the tradition of anti-Irish and anti-Catholic prejudice 
that existed in the city, a prejudice that had grown in response to the arrival of post-famine 
Irish migrants in the 1840s and 1850s. 52 


II 

Clearly, any account of Lowther’s election victories which omitted the instrumental role 
of corruption and religious sectarianism would be incomplete. Nevertheless, it would be 
unduly reductionist to suggest that he and the Tories were passive beneficiaries of these 
factors, or of a more general innate Conservatism. Lowther’s election victories were based 
on his ability to construct a broad-based coalition of voters, which, above all, was cemented 


45 The Times , 9 Nov. 1868; YG, 21 Nov. 1868. 

46 On this strategy see: A. J. Warren, ‘Disraeli, the Conservatives and the National Church, 
1837-1881’, inj. P. Parry and S. Taylor (eds.), Parliament and the Church, 1529- 1960 (Edinburgh, 
2000), pp. 96-117. 

47 On the middle-class bias of Anglicanism in York see: E. Royle, ‘Religion in York, 1831-1981’, 
in Feinstein (ed.), York 1831-1981 , pp. 205-33, at p. 208. 

48 C. S. Ford, Pastors and Polemicists: the character of popular Anglicanism in south-east 
Lancashire (Manchester, 2002), p. 125. 

49 Sandra O’Leary, ‘Re-thinking popular Conservatism in Liverpool: democracy and reform in 
the later nineteenth century’, in Michael Turner (ed.), Reform and Reformers in nineteenth- 
century Britain (Sunderland, 2004), pp. 157-174, at p. 159. 

50 YG, 8 April 1865. 

51 The Times, 20 Mar. 1880. 

52 F. Finnegan, Poverty and Prejudice: a study of Irish immigrants in York 1840-1875 (Cork, 1982). 


226 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


by an appeal to civic ideologies of independence and by defending local privileges. What is 
particularly striking about this platform was that it drew on, and reworked, eighteenth- 
century traditions of electoral independence. In particular, this platform represented 
something of an attenuated ‘country-party’ ideology, albeit one that assumed a distinctly 
Tory and Yorkshire form . 53 The country-party ideology, originally developed by opposition 
Whigs and later adopted by the Anglican Tory squirearchy, was the response by these groups 
to their exclusion from power by the party of the ‘court’ who were the exclusive recipients 
of royal patronage. At its broadest level, this ideology also denoted a preference for the 
simplicity and virtues of provincial and rural England, a corresponding hostility towards the 
corrupting influences of ‘city vice’, trade and manufacture, and a general resistance to the 
centralising and monopolising designs of cosmopolitan Whiggery. Thus, country-party 
ideology underpinned notions of electoral independence: ‘the customary means by which a 
constituency sought to emancipate itself from local electoral oligarchy .’ 54 The electoral virtue 
of this ‘country’ patriotism was its flexibility and inclusiveness: this was originally an anti- 
party creed that was drawn upon by the whole political spectrum . 55 It was drawn on and 
adapted by radicals such as John Wilkes, Sir Francis Burdett, Henry Hunt and Feargus 
O’Connor in their various crusades against ‘Old Corruption’. It also informed the Tory- 
Radicalism of Richard Oastler and Michael Sadler in their campaigns against ‘factory slavery’ 
and the New Poor Law. Arguably, it was this same ideology that fed into the powerful 
popular suspicion of party organisation, ‘wire-pullers’ and political cliques that characterised 
Victorian popular politics . 56 

Whilst one would not want to push the analogy too far, there are definite echoes of this 
‘country-party’ ideology in Lowther’s platform. Lowther himself had something of the 
independent northern country gentleman about him. As The Times obituary noted of him: 
‘He had the gift of plain speech, and, in a colloquial phrase, “a rough side to his tongue” ... if 
his opinions were of the old-world cast, they were honestly held, with the rugged sincerity of 
a nature very typical of the north-country breed from which he sprang’. 5 " His independent 
stance in Parliament and his stubbornness was certainly no detriment to his popularity with 
his supporters. Indeed, it was independence that was valued above all else, and underpinned 
civic ideology, which fed into ‘country-party’ ideology. Independence entailed rejection of 
servility and denoted generalised opposition to oligarchy. Thus, as Rosemary Sweet argues, 
civic ideologies of independence drew strength from a belief in the constitutional importance 
of boroughs and their chartered privileges, especially those pertaining to freemen, and drew 
upon local pride and a sense of inherited rights and status . 58 


53 On the country-party ideology see: H. T. Dickinson, Liberty and Property: political ideology 
in eighteenth-century Britain (London, 1977), ch. 5. 

54 M. McCormack, ‘Metropolitan “radicalism” and electoral independence, 1760-1820’, in M. 
Cragoe and A. Taylor (eds.), London Politics 1760-1918 (Palgrave, 2005), pp. 18-37, at pp. 21-22. 

55 See Robert Harris, Politics and the Nation: Britain in the mid-eighteenth century (Oxford, 2002). 

56 For this anti-party spirit as an aspect of Victorian popular politics see: Lawrence, ‘Popular 
politics and the limitations of party: Wolverhampton, 1867-1900’; J. Lawrence, Speaking for the 
People: party, language and popular politics in England, 1867-1914 (Cambridge, 1998), ch. 7. 

57 The Times , 13 Sept. 1904. 

58 Sweet, English borough politics’, pp. 87-8. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


227 


This ‘country’ platform therefore went beyond Lowther’s personal character traits. 
The York Tories, and Lowther in particular, were keen to present themselves as the excluded 
‘under-dog’, as the crusaders for ‘fair play’ in the face of local Liberal tyranny The Liberals, 
it was argued, were always unfairly trying to monopolise the representation of York for 
themselves, and the 1865 and 1868 general elections were no exception. Introducing Lowther 
in 1865, Mr Husband, the chairman of Lowther’s election committee, asked the York Tories 
‘whether they should consent to be put down, or whether they should manfully assert their 
privilege of being represented’. 59 Similarly, at the 1868 election Lowther indignantly 
remarked that ‘the Conservatives have a fair right to possess one part of the representation 
of this city, they ask for no more, and they will accept no less’. 60 In the context of York this 
was not merely empty rhetoric. The association between Conservatism and fair play had a 
particular poignancy in York where the Conservative party had never been as identified 
locally with unjust privilege and oligarchy as was the case in places such as Leeds and 
Sheffield. This was to be explained by developments at the level of municipal politics. In 
contrast to Leeds and Sheffield where the Municipal Corporations Act of 1835 had ended 
years of local Tory domination, at York the Act broke the monopoly of the Whigs and gave 
power to the Tories. 61 Whilst the Conservatives, under George Hudson, the fraudulent 
‘Railway King’, came to dominate council politics from 1835 to 1856, their previous and 
subsequent exclusion from the city’s affairs allowed the Tories to present themselves as the 
underdog and the defender of popular rights against the tyrannical and oligarchic tendencies 
of Liberalism. By the early 1860s the mantle of Hudson had passed to George Leeman, the 
undisputed leader of the York Liberals, who ‘held complete sway over the corporation’. 62 
Leeman and his clique thus became the target of Tory and Radical criticism. This opposition 
was articulated in a local and county idiom. 

Lowther, by articulating his political appeal in a language that stressed the virtues of 
straightforwardness, independence, self-help, freedom, fairness and honesty, was able to 
fashion a distinctly Yorkshire Conservatism that identified Liberalism as tyrannical, 
duplicitous and centralising: in short, as anti-Yorkshire. It was Lowther’s connections with 
the county that were emphasised. As a Yorkshireman, he claimed to be ‘deeply attached by 
old association’ to York and his priority would be to attend to the city’s local interests. 63 The 
York Tories had a tradition of selecting county gentlemen as a means of preserving the 
historic link between York and Yorkshire. Extolling the virtues of Lowther’s status as a 
county gentleman, Mr Husband reminded the electors that: ‘In former days they had been 
represented by Cavendish, by Sykes, by Petre, by Dundas, by Lowther - (cheers) - and 
latterly by Colonel Smyth’ and ‘the Liberal party may say what they liked, but he contended 
that it was of importance to the city to keep up the connection with the county’. 64 The 
attempt to preserve the link between York and Yorkshire also represented an attack on ‘the 


59 YG, 8 Apr. 1865. 

60 YG, 21 Nov. 1868. 

61 Peacock, ‘George Leeman’, p. 234. 

62 Peacock, ‘George Leeman’, p. 244. 

63 YG, 1 July 1865. 

64 YG, 8 Apr. 1865. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


back parlour clique’, 65 as Lowther called Leeman and his followers, or the ‘Quaker Junta’, 66 
as they were also known in radical circles. Here the Tories cast themselves as the country- 
party in opposition to the Liberal clique who dominated York politics. In particular, it was 
the re-nomination of Mr Brown-Westhead in 1865 and again in 1868, that Lowther and the 
Tories found objectionable. For all that Brown-Westhead had previously represented York 
for seven years this did little in Lowther’s eyes to alter Brown-Westhead ’s illegitimate political 
birth as a carpet-bagger. Who was this Westhead, Lowther asked? ‘He has no identity with, 
or interest in, the city of York, and never visits it except to partake of a city banquet.’ 67 It had 
been determined, Lowther went on, ‘by the back parlour clique that nobody directly or 
indirectly connected with Yorkshire should be a member for the city’. 68 The Tory Yorkshire 
Gazette chastised the York Liberals for having the sagacity ‘to refuse the services of two or 
three Yorkshire gentlemen because their political views did not quite harmonise with the 
crotchets of the Whig-Radical school in York’. 69 As such, Lowther appealed to all those who 
‘abhor local tyranny of any kind’ to ‘rally round the Conservative standard’. 70 

At the 1865 election Lowther’s local claims to representation did not go uncontested 
since this was also the occasion when George Leeman, the popular local railway director, 
also stood for election in the Liberal interest. ‘Citizen Leeman’, as a local employer, civic 
dignitary and philanthropist, had strong local and popular credentials with the York electorate. 
Both Leeman and Brown-Westhead stood on a vague platform of ‘peace, retrenchment and 
reform’/ 1 Yet for all that Leeman could lay claim to being a ‘York man, born and bred’, 72 the 
Conservatives countered these claims and targeted Leeman as the epitome of Liberal 
dictation. The Gazette accused him of intimidating his employees at the railways works. 73 
In addition, Leeman was held responsible for the £35,000 of debt that had been incurred in 
the building of Lendal Bridge: unnecessary expenditure since George Hudson had offered, 
it was claimed, to pay for the bridge out of his own pocket. The Gazette was indignant that 
Leeman, having dictated to the city in the matter of Lendal Bridge ‘now seeks to dictate in 
the election’. 74 In addition to presenting themselves as the liberal alternative to the dictates 
of Leeman and the Liberals, the Conservatives also attempted to turn Leeman’s local 
credentials against him by suggesting that his desire to enter parliament suggested that he 
was deserting York, as if he had somehow outgrown the city: ‘Like many a Town Councillor 
and local celebrity, Mr. Alderman Leeman is an exceedingly ambitious man. He wants his 
light to shine before men in a more extended sphere than York is ever likely to afford him.’ 75 
As seen here, in this rather specious rhetoric, for Lowther and the Tories it was not just 


65 

YG, 

14 Nov. 1868. 

66 

YG, 

3 Oct. 1868. 

67 

YG, 

1 July 1865. 

68 

YG, 

14 Nov. 1868. 

69 

YG, 

21 Nov. 1868. 

70 

YG, 

1 July 1865. 

71 

YH, 

8 Apr. 1865. 

72 

YG, 

1 July 1865. 

73 

YG, 

8 July 1865. 

74 

YG, 

1 July 1865. 

75 

YG, 

1 July 1865. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


229 


about possessing local credentials, but the right kind of local credentials. In Tory eyes, 
Leeman was parochial. The Gazette concluded that there were ‘too many railway directors 
in Parliament, and far too many local celebrities’. 75 

The 1868 general election witnessed Lowther and the York Conservative party 
monopolise the politics of locality to an unprecedented degree when the Liberals nominated 
two ‘carpet-bagger’ candidates. Brown-West he ad was again nominated, and Leeman, having 
retired ostensibly on the grounds of ill-health, was replaced by John Hall Gladstone. The 
Gazette chastised the Liberals for having the temerity to nominate ‘Two Lancashire men’. 7/ 
Lowther was indignant that a ‘slur had been cast upon the inhabitants of this great county, 
the largest in the kingdom, as a Yorkshireman had not been found by the Liberal party to 
represent the capital city of York’, 78 and he ‘exhorted the electors of York to ‘vindicate their 
freedom and independence’ and ‘deliver the city from the thraldom in which it was now 
attempted to be held’ [s7c]. 79 The Yorkshire Gazette also objected to Brown-Westhead on 
the grounds that, as the vice-chairman of the London and North Western Railway, ‘his duty 
to his shareholders require[d] him to divert the through passenger traffic between London 
and Edinburgh from the York route for the benefit of his own railway’. 80 As for John Hall 
Gladstone, the Gazette mused: ‘Why Yorkshire should be the refuge of the Gladstones we 
know not’. Objecting once again to outside interference, the Gazette found it objectionable 
that the only recommendation Gladstone had came from John Bright, whose ‘interference 
with the representation of York is as gratuitous as it is impudent’. 81 In summation, the 
Gazette warned that it would ‘be a blotch on the shield of York should its interests be 
confided to two men, who, neither by residence nor by identity in any manner with our 
county, are concerned or acquainted with our affairs’. 82 Lowther’s victory at the head of the 
poll was the occasion for the remarks with which this article opened. As Brown-Westhead 
had previously represented the city it is not surprising that he took the second seat, defeating 
John Hall Gladstone. 

It was against this background of local party dictation that Lowther, true to the spirit of 
the country-party ideology, championed the virtues of independence. Central to this stance 
was his attempt to tap into popular, and especially radical, hostility to dictation by local 
elites and their domination of local political structures. Speaking to a group of electors in the 
New Corn Exchange immediately prior to the 1868 election, Lowther told his audience that: 

He was not a mere organ and puppet of an election coterie ... he had never allowed himself 
to be drawn by a cart-taff faction, but when he found in the course of duty that he differed from 
the leaders of the great Conservative party he never hesitated to say so. (Applause.) ... He would 
say that he did not appear before them as a mere nominee of any person, but was there as a free 
and independent candidate. 8 ' 1 

76 YG, 1 July 1865. 

77 YG, 12 Sept. 1868. 

78 YG, 7 Nov. 1868. 

79 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 

80 YG, 8 Aug. 1868. 

81 YG, 26 Sept. 1868. 

82 YG, 8 Aug. 1868. 

83 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


This would have had a powerful resonance with radicals in York who were disaffected by 
Leeman’s domination of Liberal politics. The country-party ideology also manifested itself 
in Lowther’s attempts to present the Conservatives as the defenders of locality in the face of 

centralising Whig-Liberalism. Lowther and the Tories asserted the independence of the 
periphery from the centre, bemoaning the expensive, meddling and destructive actions of 
Liberal governments. Lowther assured the electors in 1865 that he would ‘devote himself to 
the furtherance of your local interests, which I consider have been trampled on by the 
present Government’. 84 Mr Husband warned the electors on the eve of the 1868 election that 
it had been a Liberal government which had taken away the city’s assizes - more evidence 
that Liberals threatened the autonomy and traditions of the city. Lowther and the Tories 
were strong advocates of minimalist government - of reduced expenditure and taxation, as 
well as being opposed to ‘all unnecessary interference in the affairs of other countries’. 85 
Lowther held to the tenet that ‘the less legislation the better’, 86 although there were occasional 
token nods towards social reform, such as the need to improve working-class dwellings. 87 
This hostility to outside dictation and over-legislation also permeated his defence of popular 
pleasures, most notably the working-man’s pint of beer, in the face of moralising Liberal 
Nonconformity. Although Lowther was ‘desirous of checking drunkenness on the Sabbath 
and preventing its desecration, he would not be one to deprive the poor man of his beer. 
(Loud cheers.)’. 88 He reminded the working men at the 1874 general election that he ‘had, as 
they well knew, always objected to any interference with the people as to their eating or 
drinking, considering that it was the inalienable right of every one to eat and drink what he 
liked’. 89 Lowther also voiced his opposition to the anti-Sabbatarian movement on the grounds 
that Sunday opening would deprive the working man of his day of rest. 90 

As this rhetoric suggests, Lowther was deliberately targeting working-class electors, 
believing them to be the backbone of his electoral support. Ingratiating himself to this 
constituency of support at the 1868 election, Lowther stated that: 

He had always said, and he said it again, that if it had not been for the working classes he 
should not have represented this city. They returned him to parliament at the last election, and 
they would again return him this time. (Cheers.) The freemen, who were half the constituency, 
returned him before as their representative, and they were of the working class, and if he was 
not very much mistaken they would send him again to parliament. (Cheers.) 91 

Ward committees of Working Men’s Conservative Associations were already in existence 
by 1868. 92 By 1874 the York Working Men’s Conservative Association claimed to have 
1,400 members. 93 Even the hostile Liberal York Heraldw as forced to concede the popularity 

84 YG, 8 Apr. 1865. 

85 YG, 1 July 1865. 

86 Doncaster Gazette, 15 Sept. 1904. 

87 YG, 1 July 1865. 

88 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 

89 YG, 31 Jan. 1874. 

90 YG, 8 Apr. 1865. 

91 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 

92 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 

93 YG, 31 Jan. 1874. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


231 


of Conservatism with the working class in the aftermath of the 1868 general election, although 
it naturally alleged that Lowther had bought this support. 94 Yet there was substance, as well 
as style, to this Tory populist platform. Also reminiscent of the country-party ideology and 
the Tory-Radicalism of the 1830s, was their ambivalent, and occasionally hostile, stance 
towards industrialist employers. As Mr Husband reminded the working men at the 1865 
election: ‘The Conservative party were the true friends of the working class, as they had 
protected their children against the millocrats and millowners of the West Riding’. 95 Lowther 
was of the view that only the Conservatives could be trusted to mediate between capital and 
labour since ‘a considerable number of them were landed gentry and were not for the most 
part great employers of labour’. 96 He was ‘in favour of having working men protected ... from 
unjust demands upon the part of the employer’. 97 Again, this seemed all the more genuine 
when spoken by Lowther ‘the country gentleman’, which would have reinforced his populist 
credentials in the eyes of the working class who traditionally found independent gentlemen 
more acceptable than middle-class types who could be held responsible for their oppression. 98 

As Lowther’s rhetoric suggests, it was the freemen who were being specifically targeted. 
This was undoubtedly a constituency of support which had a vested interest in the 
preservation of the social and political status quo. In his 1915 survey of the development of 
the parliamentary franchise Charles Seymour noted that ‘when the term freeman was used in 
municipal or parliamentary connection it borrowed all the exclusiveness, all the sense of 
bourgeois monopoly which hung about the trade guilds.’ 99 What made this all the more 
salient was that by the 1860s the freemen were endangered electors, not least because the 
Liberals, and Gladstone in particular, had become preoccupied with finding ways to end the 
operation of this ancient franchise. This allowed the Conservative party to present itself as 
the defender of the freeman franchise, much as they had done in 1832 when the Whigs had 
also tried to terminate these ancient voting rights. 100 At the 1868 general election Lowther 
told one audience that Gladstone ‘had always been a steadfast and unflinching opponent to 
the freemen of York and other places. ‘Mr Gladstone’, Lowther went on: 

Had always pretended to be warm and interested in securing an extension of the suffrage 
amongst the working men of this country, but he had always been opposed to the freemen 
franchise. (Loud Applause.) By some statistics of 1867, it was fully proved that the freemen of 
England were not the most corrupt body of electors, as had been stated, but they were men of 
fidelity, and fully entitled to possess the franchise. He ... ventured to ask the constituency, composed 
as it was in great part of freemen, whether he was to be displaced from the representation of this 
city to make way for those whose recommendation to their favours was that they were prepared 
to be at the beck and call of one who ventured so to malign them. (Applause and disapprobation.) 101 


94 YH, 21 Nov. 1868. 

95 YG, 7 July 1865. 

96 YG, 26 Sept. 1868. 

97 YG, 7 Nov. 1868. 

98 John Belchem and James Epstein, ‘The nineteenth-century gentleman leader revisited’, Social 
History, 22 (1997), 173-92. 

99 Seymour, Electoral Reform, p. 27. 

100 Seymour, Electoral Reform, pp. 30 and 87. 

101 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 


232 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


Here we see Liberalism, and Gladstone in particular, chastised for being dishonest and 
tyrannical. By posing as the defenders of this ancient franchise, and securing the perpetuity 
of that franchise in 1867, the Conservatives positioned themselves as the protectors of 
popular privileges. Defence of the freeman franchise was central to civic ideology as this 
voting right issued from the chartered privileges of the borough. The Tories’ defence of this 
ancient right prevented the York Liberals from fully capitalising on Lowther’s initial 
opposition to a radical extension of the franchise - it will be recalled that he had initially 
opposed his own government’s reform bill. As Lowther stated in 1865, only those ‘persons in 
lodgings, clerks, payers of income tax and other respectable parties’ should be given the 
vote. 102 After all, as far as Lowther was concerned, most working men who deserved the vote 
already qualified as freemen. As for those who did not qualify, only lodgers were of concern 
to Lowther as many of these were ‘members of the learned professions, intelligent foremen 
over workmen and labourers’ and assorted others who ‘contribute largely to the income and 
assessed taxes’. 103 On the declaration of the poll in 1868 he reminded the electors that the 
‘old constitution was essentially a popular constitution as it possessed many hundreds of 
electors who were freemen’. 104 However, one should not necessarily assume that freemen 
electors were automatically predisposed to Conservatism. For example, an analysis of the 
1865 poll book based on a sample of every tenth freeman elector reveals that 79 voted for 
Lowther, 78 for Leeman, 73 for Westhead and 63 were undetermined. Of the 293 freeman 
electors in this sample only six split their votes across party lines. 105 Similarly, the compilers 
of the 1865 Poll Book noticed that of the 598 freemen who had taken up their freedom since 
the previous election in 1859, 309 voted Liberal and 287 Conservative. 106 According to 
contemporary political commentaiy it appears that political belief amongst the freemen was 
transmitted hereditarily. Lowther believed that ‘there was no class amongst whom party 
feeling was stronger, or amongst whom hereditary political views descended in a straighter 
vein than amongst the working classes.’ 10 " That many freemen acquired their vote through 
inheritance may well account for this. 

Given the nature of Lowther’s constituency of support and his own background, it is 
not surprising that his Conservatism appeared backward-looking, defensive, resistant to 
change and vehemently anti-democratic. The compilers of the York poll book for 1865 
remarked of Lowther that: ‘his opinions are of an old-fashioned pattern, on a deep blue 
ground’, but since he had ‘polled a larger number of undivided votes than any one ever did 
before ... the fair assumption is that his opinions ... are in harmony with those of a majority 
of the electoral body’, and none more so than the working class. 108 


102 YG, 8 July 1865. 

103 YG, 8 Apr. 1865. 

104 YG, 21 Nov. 1868. 

105 These figures have been calculated from a database constructed from a sample of every tenth 
freeman elector from the 1865 York poll book, cross referenced with the 1865 electoral register 
held at York City Library. 

106 York Poll Book, 1865, p. 5. 

107 YG, 14 Nov. 1868. 

11)8 York Poll Book 1865, p. 5. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


233 


This helps to explain why the constitutional idiom featured so prominently in York 
Conservatism. The committee of the York Working Men’s Conservative Association ‘were 
of the opinion that the working class as a body are proud of the English constitution, and are 
anxious to uphold and preserve intact those noble institutions which had tended to make 
their country great and illustrious’ - a constitution that the freemen had profited from . 109 
Just as the freemen franchise was a hereditary privilege, so too had the constitution, in the 
words of Lowther, been ‘inherited from a wise and provident ancestry’ and it was the duty of 
working men to hand it ‘down uninjured and unimpaired to a grateful posterity ’. 110 There 
was little place for democracy in this vision. 

Notions of manly independence and honesty were deployed in a distinctly English and 
Yorkshire frame of reference against various democratic measures. This manifested itself 
most notably in Lowther’s hostility to the introduction of the secret ballot. The advocates of 
the ballot were attempting to thrust on the electors ‘the sneaking, cowardly, un-English, 
American system of voting ’. 111 This was interpreted as an attempt to subvert the ‘manly and 
open character of English institutions .’ 112 Lowther gave his opposition a distinctly Yorkshire 
flavour: 

We must imagine the voters walking up carefully and sneakingly to the polling-places, and 
there thrusting in their votes upon the sly, in a manner that any honest man would be heartily 
ashamed of. Just conceive any inhabitant of this city or any real bred Yorkshireman doing such 
a thing. 113 

No doubt radicals and a fair few Liberals of John Stuart Mill’s kidney would have agreed. 
Thus, the Conservatives voiced their opposition to the ballot in a language that fused together 
popular conceptions of locality, gender and nation: Lowther’s association of Conservatism 
with a militant Englishness was refracted through a masculine Yorkshire lens. He believed 
that the franchise was a trust ‘for which its possessors are responsible to the whole 
community ’. 114 As such, he could ‘never sanction a measure which must tend to lower the 
independent character of my countrymen’. For ‘the examples of France and America clearly 
show that the Ballot and universal suffrage are no obstacles to tyranny and oppression .’ 115 
Lowther and the York Conservative party’s conception of Englishness was defined in 
opposition to this American and French democratic ‘Other’. In his first ever election address 
to the city Lowther declared that he was: 

Opposed to the wild democrat, who would reduce our glorious constitution to the level of 
American institutions, so productive not only of bloodshed and rapine, but also of a tyranny 
more intolerant than that of the worst despotic Government. 116 


109 YG, 4 July 1868. 

110 YG, 26 Sept. 1868 

111 YG, 1 July 1865. 

112 YG, 1 July 1865. 

113 YG, 8 July 1865. 

114 YG, 1 July 1865. 

115 YG, 1 July 1865. 

116 YG, 1 July 1865. 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


As the example of the ballot demonstrates, even discussions of specific policies and 
legislative programmes could be articulated in the language of locality, thus illustrating the 
interdependency of local and national identities and idioms. That Lowther and the York 
Conservatives chose to couch their political appeal in these idioms confirms that they believed 
in the mobilising capacities of identities based on place, an identity which transcended class 
and religious divisions, and their electoral success suggests that such an appeal resonated 
with a significant proportion of the electorate. 

Ill 

Lowther’s electioneering extravaganzas at York demonstrate that even ‘dinosaur’ figures 
could fashion a viable popular politics, and one that mounted a successful challenge to the 
Liberal political hegemony in its mid-Victorian heyday. The portrait from York thus lends 
further weight to the emerging critique of the ‘currents of radicalism’ school, which has 
exaggerated the successes of popular Liberalism during the 1860s and 1870s and diminished 
the points of tension within the Liberal coalition. 11 ' The electoral performance of the 
Conservative party during this period also serves, to some extent, as a barometer for the 
level of tension within the Liberal party, although one would not wish to reduce the fortunes 
of Conservatism to a reflection of the periodic divisions within the Liberal alliance. 
Nevertheless, as seen with Lowther, he was able to make political capital out of radical 
hostility towards dictatorial Liberal elites. Notwithstanding the backward-looking and 
resistant nature of Lowther’s platform it clearly resonated with some radicals. These tensions 
within the Liberal party had been a factor in York politics since the 1830s, and up until the 
1850s this pressure was usually released through the nomination of a more advanced 
candidate at parliamentary elections to accompany the candidate chosen by Leeman and his 
clique. But as Leeman’s grip tightened from the late 1850s the radical agenda was increasingly 
thwarted, and this led some to look elsewhere. If Leeman’s Liberalism had been more 
advanced this might have mattered less, but as matters stood he seemed ever more cautious 
- except when it came to moralising about popular pleasures. Leeman’s radicalism had 
always been rather weak: he had remained aloof from the Chartists, the Anti-Corn Law 
League and he was opposed to manhood suffrage. 118 Thus, for all Lowther’s opposition to 
the extension of the franchise and the ballot there were other aspects of his platform that 
radicals could closely identify with: as mentioned that was the virtue of the ‘country-party’ 
ideology and the rhetoric of electoral independence. 

However, Lowther’s electoral successes were the product of a specific historical 
conjuncture in the late 1860s, the basis of which was undermined thereafter. At the 1874 
general election Lowther and the Tories were unable to voice their political appeal in the 
language of locality since the Liberals selected only one candidate in the person of ‘Citizen 


117 On these tensions see: A. Taylor, ‘“The best way to get what he wanted”: Ernest Jones and 
the boundaries of Liberalism in the Manchester election of 1868’, Parliamentary History , 16 
(1997), 185-204; N. Kirk, Change, Continuity and Class: labour in British society, 1850-1920 
(Manchester, 1998), pp. 94-5; Lawrence, Speaking for the People , p. 46. 

118 Peacock, ‘George Leeman’, pp. 236 and 249. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


235 


Leeman’. It was difficult for Lowther to attack Leeman either as an outsider, or as a jumped- 
up city politician, since in 1871 he had replaced Brown-Westhead unopposed and so was a 
sitting MP at the dissolution in 1874. In addition, in consequence of their over-confidence, 
the Conservatives left themselves open to the charge of hypocrisy when, in addition to 
Lowther, they nominated Lewis Payan Dawnay as a second candidate. It was not that Dawnay 
was a carpet-bagger. As a younger son of a Yorkshire aristocrat with extensive property in 
the county and a staunch patron of the Church, he had good ‘county’ credentials, although 
the Gazette was forced to concede that ‘Mr Dawnay was comparatively unknown to the 
electors prior to the election’, which is undeniably true given the last minute decision to 
nominate a second candidate, to say nothing of Gladstone’s flash decision to hold an 
election. 119 The hypocrisy stemmed from the hitherto insistence by the Tories that each 
party was entitled to one of the York seats, and so long as they nominated only one candidate 
this insistence held good - however much it was based on tactical calculation. In nominating 
a second candidate the Tories no longer appeared to be paragons of ‘fair play’. Leaving aside 
the flash decision to hold an election, and notwithstanding Dawnay’s county credentials, it 
was unlikely that a relatively unknown candidate was going to dislodge either Leeman or 
Lowther, both of whom were already sitting MPs. On this occasion Leeman topped the polls. 
Unaccompanied by a carpet-bagger, and preserving harmony within the York Liberal party, 120 
Leeman deployed his local credentials to maximum effect. 121 

In the York Tory camp, the 1874 general election was couched in a more national idiom. 
Reversing their stance from the two previous elections, the Tories were at pains to emphasise 
that ‘local ties should not be considered’ and informed the electors that they should vote 
according to measures and not men. 122 Husband told the electors in no uncertain terms that 
‘the question was one of principle alone, whether the people shall be religiously educated or 
not, and whether the English Church should be disestablished like the Irish Church.’ 123 This 
was even more evident at the 1880 general election, when Lowther actually lost his seat. It 
was more than ironic that the electors of York preferred an untried candidate to Lowther, on 
this occasion in the person of Ralph Creyke, a Liberal who topped the polls. Like Lowther 
before him, Creyke was a Yorkshire gentleman with local connections. Having retired for 
the second time due to failing health, George Leeman was replaced by his youngest son, 
JosephJoshua Leeman, although interestingly his local and familial connections could not 
rival Creyke’s position as a Yorkshire country gentleman. In a sentence that Lowther himself 
could have uttered, Creyke at his nomination meeting ‘hoped they would allow him to call 
them brother Yorkshiremen. (Cheers.)’. 124 Arguably, Creyke’s victory over Leeman junior 

119 YG, 7 Feb. 1874. 

120 Leeman’s neutral stance over the contentious Permissive Bill secured him the grudging 
support of radical nonconformity, which elsewhere revolted against mainstream Liberalism, 
producing some instances of rival candidatures. Neutrality became the acceptable minimum 
that qualified candidates for temperance votes. See D. A. Hamer, The Politics of Electoral 
Pressure: a study in the history of Victorian reform agitations (Sussex, 1977), p. 192. 

121 YG , 7 Feb. 1874. The voting was as follows (figures taken from the YG, 7 Feb. 1874): Leeman: 
3,880; Lowther: 3,371; Dawnay: 2,830. 

122 YG, 31 Jan. 1874. 

123 YG, 29 Jan. 1874. 

124 YH, 17 March 1880. 


236 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


provides further evidence that the city normally had a preference for a country gentleman. In 
this respect, Leeman senior had been an exception, and it is worth noting that he had been 
the first York resident to represent York since the 1820s. In addition, the Conservative party 
had been in government for the past six years and Lowther found that he was saddled with 
defending his government’s record, of which he had played his part, first as Under-Secretary 
for the Colonies from 1874 to 1878, and then as Irish Chief Secretary - all of which served to 
reinforce the national focus of the 1880 election. Lowther’s political style was always more 
suited to the opposition benches. After all, the ‘country-party’ platform was an ideology of 
political exclusion. 

The national dimensions of the campaign were underlined when Gladstone’s train, on its 
way from London to Edinburgh, arrived into York whereupon he alighted and gave a rousing 
speech attacking ‘Beaconsfieldism’: a pejorative term coined by Gladstone to denote 
Disraeli’s, by then Earl of Beaconsfield, and the Conservatives’ reckless, inefficient, expensive, 
and above all, iniquitous conduct of foreign and imperial affairs. Gladstone charged the 
government with being indifferent to freedom abroad, of weakening the empire through 
needless and costly foreign entanglements, and of contravening the principles of international 
law. 125 The Liberals presented the 1880 election as a great state trial in which the government 
was prosecuted for its past actions, especially its foreign policy. 126 Despite the early attempts 
of the York Conservatives to brand Creyke as a carpet-bagger, they too emphasised the 
national, even international, dimensions of the election. The Yorkshire Gazette bluntly told 
its readers that: 

The two or three test questions at this election will be: shall we sanction Home Rule? Shall 
Ireland have a parliament of her own, and the Empire be dismembered? Or shall we insist upon 
that the Parliament of England still govern Ireland? Also that the foreign policy of the 
government, taken in its entirety has been such as commends itself to the common sense and the 
imperial instincts of Englishmen? 127 

Consequently, Lowther was defeated in 1880 not because of who he was, but what he 
represented. On the platform he was subjected to an unprecedented barrage of heckling, 
with cries of: ‘You’re on your last legs’ and repeated ‘groans’, ‘hooting’ and ‘derisive laughter’. 128 
In addition, as the Liberal York Herald pointed out, the Liberals approached the election 
with unparalleled unity and sense of direction. With a healthy dose of malice, the Yorkshire 
Gazette , choking on sour grapes, commented that: 

The Liberals of York have, by dint of wooing the local Home Rulers and pandering to the 
crazes of the Teetotallers, have succeeded in ousting from the representation a gentleman who, 
by dint of reason of his political honesty and consistent refusal to truckle to their wishes, had 
made himself especially obnoxious to those parties. 129 

Interestingly though, Lowther’s electoral support was relatively stable across the period - 
2,079 in 1865 rising to 3,735 in 1868 after the Second Reform Act, falling slightly to 3,371 

125 YG ; 31 Jan. 1874. 

126 Leeds Mercury, ; 9 March 1880. 

127 YG, 1 Apr. 1880. 

128 YG, 17 March 1880. 

129 YG, 10 Apr. 1880. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


237 


in 1874 and rising, ironically, to an all-time high of 3,959 in 1880. Given the growth of the 
Liberal vote in 1880, from 3,880 in 1874 to 4,505 (the leading Liberal) in 1880 one can 
postulate that the Liberals benefited from an expanding electorate - the constituency had 
grown by 1,227 votes between 1874 and 1880 - and perhaps also from an increased voter 
turnout. 130 

What is to be made of the role played by civic ideologies of independence in Lowther’s 
electoral successes in the 1860s, the setback in 1874 and his eventual defeat in 1880? On one 
level it could be argued that election rhetoric was purely expedient, and that focusing on 
local and regional issues is to mistake style for substance, arguably the real intention of 
Lowther and the Tories. Based on this reading, all that happened in 1880, and to a lesser 
extent in 1874, was the denuding of an impoverished Tory platform. Yet such an interpretation 
is reductionist and fails to take seriously the language which was being used. The fact that 
issues like electoral independence, and local and regional identity continued to be invoked 
suggests that they continued to be relevant and were deemed to be important by a significant 
portion of the electorate. After all, Lowther was elected when he used such rhetoric and 
ousted when he did not. More importantly, it was not just Lowther and the Tories who 
invoked local issues and deployed localist idioms, as evidenced by Leeman in 1874 and 
Creyke in 1880. This suggests that local appeals were powerful, irrespective of party, 
especially if there were synergies with other supra-local issues: the abolition of Church rates 
and parliamentary reform in 1865; the disestablishment of the Irish Church and the freeman 
franchise in 1868; the question of religious education and the position of the ‘National 
Church’ in 1874; and the iniquities of Beaconsfield’s foreign policy in 1880. The portrait 
that emerges from York suggests that there was no linear and immutable movement away 
from a politics couched in a distinctly local idiom to one more explicitly national and 
international in focus under the inexorable ‘rise of party’, complete with its integrating, 
disciplining and homogenising functions. In a telling and passing phrase, the Yorkshire 
Gazette noted of the 1874 election that one notable feature had been the revival of national 
party colours of blue and orange, not the arrival of them. 131 What stands out is the continual 
interplay of local, regional and national identities throughout the late-Victorian and 
Edwardian periods. 132 After all, Lowther and the Tories had not been the victims of the 
nationalisation of politics per se in 1880; rather they had lost the local card to the Liberals, 
albeit at a time when the latter were benefiting from national political developments. 

All this begs the question of just how typical York was in the context of mid-Victorian 
popular politics. For all that York was an old freeman borough, awkwardly positioned between 
the smaller market towns and the burgeoning industrial boroughs, it is worth remembering 
that Victorian ‘urban politics cannot be reduced to the politics of ... great cities, not least 


130 The voting was as follows (figures from YG, 10 Apr. 1880): 


Lowther plumpers: 3,578; 
splits with Creyke: 233; 
splits with Leeman: 148 

3,959 


Creyke plumpers: 32; 

splits with Lowther: 233; 
splits with Leeman: 4,240 

4,505 


131 YG, 7 Feb. 1874. 


132 See Lawrence, Speaking for the People, passim, esp. ch. 6. 


Leeman plumpers: 25 
splits with Creyke: 4,240 
splits with Lowther: 148 

4,413 


238 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


because ... the typical “urbanite” continued to reside in the medium-sized town, with 50,000 
to 100,000 inhabitants, rather than in the large city’, which makes York more representative 
of urban politics generally than initially appears to be the case. 133 Nevertheless, situating 
York within the wider context of mid-Victorian popular politics does suggest that the city’s 
electoral culture was fairly typical. In this respect, three main interlinked points emerge. 
Firstly, the powerful anti-party spirit that pervaded Victorian popular politics represented a 
re-working and updating of the eighteenth-centuiy ‘country-party’ ideology and associated 
culture of electoral independence. Various attempts were made by disaffected political 
groupings to use civic loyalties as a stick to beat political opponents, usually Liberals. Many 
places had their own localised incarnation of ‘Old Corruption’, and the way in which 
opposition to it manifested itself was temporally and spatially specific, contingent upon the 
political dynamics of the locality in question. In parts of the Black Countiy and Lancashire 
the power of the local Liberal elite was so entrenched that popular hostility towards them 
fuelled the rise of popular Conservatism, as was also the case in York. 134 By contrast, in 
places where either the Tory party was weaker or the position of the Liberal elite less secure, 
this discontent could take the form of independent radical politics, as was the case in 
London and Nottingham. 135 Far from being able to reduce election behaviour to underlying 
social cleavages, the article provides further evidence of the diverse, fluid and unstable 
nature of Victorian popular politics. Secondly, in tracing the evolution of popular 
Conservatism across the nineteenth century it is evident that the late-Victorian incarnation 
owed a great deal to the ‘country-party’ ideology, what with the Conservative party’s emphasis 
on local and national patriotism and by presenting itself as the custodian of national as 
opposed to party interests along with its defence of traditional ways of life. Historians need 
to pay more critical attention to localism and regionalism as a facet of popular political 
identity. Thirdly, this article has also argued that electoral politics in York conform more to 
the political culture of the pre-1832 ‘unreformed system’ rather than any so-called ‘modern’ 
system of party politics. The purpose of doing so is not to paint York politics in a negative 
and reactionary light, although the city’s politics could be both these things; rather, that the 
persistence of local issues and civic notions of independence, the reactionary nature of 
Lowther’s politics, and the pre-industrial composition of the York electorate provide further 
evidence that the vibrant and participatory electoral culture associated with later Hanoverian 
and early Victorian England survived into the 1870s. Indeed, there is little evidence to 
suggest that popular politics had been ‘disciplined, regulated and disabled’ by the 1870s as 


133 Lawrence, ‘The dynamics of urban politics, 1867-1914’, in Lawrence and Taylor (eds.), Party, 
State and Society , pp. 79-105, at p. 79. 

134 For the Black Country see Lawrence, ‘Popular politics and the limitations of party’ in Biagini 
and Reid (eds.), Currents of Radicalism. For Lancashire see Joyce, Work, Society and Politics', 
Kirk, Labour and Society in Britain and the USA, vol. 2. 

135 On London see A. Taylor, ‘After Chartism: metropolitan perspectives on the Chartist 
movement in decline, 1848-60’ in M. J. Turner (ed.) Reform and Reformers in nineteenth 
century Britain ( Sunderland, 2004), pp. 117-35; A. Taylor, ‘A melancholy odyssey among London 
public houses’: radical club life and the unrespectable in mid-nineteenth-century London’, 
Historical Research, 78 (2005), pp. 74-95. For Nottingham see A. C. Wood, ‘Sir Robert Clifton, 
1826-69’, Transactions of the Thornton Society, 57 (1953), 48-65. 


JAMES LOWTHER AND POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK 


239 


argued by James Vernon. 136 Lowther’s election victories were not the product of a rigidly 
controlled party bureaucracy, indoor ‘ticketed’ public meetings, or of a more general insidious 
attempt to undermine the open, boisterous and libertarian politics of the street - innovations 
that Lowther would have undoubtedly dismissed as ‘unmanly’. Indeed, it was Lowther’s 
acceptance of this open political culture that legitimised his claims to represent the people. 
Beyond York, forthcoming work byjon Lawrence and Kit Good will suggest that this robust, 
masculine and participatory electoral culture even survived into the early twentieth century. 13 ' 

Yet for all that York’s electoral culture was typical of mid-Victorian popular politics the 
pattern of electoral success was less typical. There can be little doubt that in York this 
pattern deviated from the national trend, with the Liberals performing badly during the late 
1860s when they were doing well elsewhere, and improving at the 1874 and 1880 general 
elections when Liberalism was beginning to decline in other large urban centres. Nevertheless, 
that Lowther was able to top the poll at the 1865 and 1868 general elections hardly made 
York exceptional: in 1865 Conservative candidates topped the poll in fifty-two of the sixty- 
three English boroughs in which the party won seats. At the 1868 election Conservatives 
headed the poll in fifty-eight of the seventy English boroughs in which they were victorious. 
What does appear to be more exceptional, however, is the declining performance of Lowther 
and the York Tories in the 1870s - a time when the Conservative party was beginning to win 
in other large urban centres, particularly evident at the 1874 and 1880 general elections. But 
even in this respect the extent of York’s exceptionalism needs to be qualified. Arguably, the 
electoral performance of the Conservative party in York during the 1870s seems less 
impressive vis-a-vis its transformation in other large urban centres precisely because the 
party had always been a force to be reckoned with in York. This was not the case in places 
like Birmingham, Sheffield and London where the Tories had been confined to the electoral 
doldrums during the mid-Victorian period. Thus, when compared with other established 
towns and cities - such as Bristol, Coventry, Grantham, Leeds, Norwich and Southampton, 
i.e., those places with a long established powerful Conservative interest - York appears less 
idiosyncratic. There would be no dramatic ‘transformation of Conservatism’ in these places 
during the last decades of the nineteenth century as there would be in Birmingham, Sheffield 


136 It is Vernon’s wider contention that ‘despite laying the legislative foundations of liberal 
democracy in 1832 and 1867, English politics became progressively less democratic during this 
period’. Vernon, Politics and the People , pp. 8-9. Whilst the present article shares the argument 
of Vernon and others that there existed an inclusive popular politics before 1832, it rejects his 
argument that this politics was eroded between 1832 and 1872, which, in any case, is difficult to 
reconcile with Vernon’s own argument that political parties in Westminster after 1832 were 
widely rejected in the nation in favour of local, idiosyncratic leaders, symbols and loyalties. For 
a critique of Vernon’s argument concerning the disciplining of popular politics see: J. Lawrence, 
‘The decline of English popular politics?’, Parliamentary History, 13 (1994), 333-7. 

137 Jon Lawrence, ‘The transformation of British public politics after the First World War’, Past 
and Present , 190 (forthcoming 2006); Kit Good, ‘Platform manliness and the physical ordeal of 
campaigning’, in Matthew McCormack (ed.), Public Men: political masculinities in modern 
Britain (Palgrave, forthcoming 2006). 


240 


YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


and London . 138 In some of these older urban centres the electoral apogee of popular 
Conservatism was reached in the mid-Victorian years, the existence of which suggests that 
historians need to rethink the notion of an immutable and linear transformation of Conservatism 
in the late nineteenth century. 


138 For the classic statement of the ‘transformation’ narrative seej. P. Cornford, ‘The transformation 
of Conservatism in the late nineteenth century’, Victorian Studies , 7 (1963), 35-77. 


Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


241 


NOTE 


ST. CHAD’S CELL AT MEANWOOD, LEEDS 


Lawrence Butler 


In the previous Journal (77 (2005), 268) there was published a family photograph of Miss 
Maiy Kitson Clark and her cousin Miss Christine Kitson seated in “St. Chad’s Cell”, described 
as an arbour or folly outside the Kitson house at Meanwoodside. In his article Stephen 
Briggs suggests (p. 269) that this folly was built of materials from a demolished chapel or 
church. The name, the architectural form and the sculptural detail all supports the view that 
this was part of the inner sanctuary wall from the demolished apse of St. Chad’s church, Far 
Headingley, 3 A mile (1 km.) south-west across the Meanwood Beck. 

The church of St. Chad, Far Headingley was consecrated in January 1868, having been 
built by the Leeds architect W. H. Crosland (1834-1909) to designs suggested by the land- 
owner and patron Edmund Beckett Denison, later the first Lord Grimthorpe. The design 
was a fourteenth-century Gothic with an aisled nave of six bays, a pentagonal apse, modelled 
upon Lichfield cathedral, and a west tower with a spire rising to 186 feet (57.23 m.). The 
outer aisle of the apse was divided by timber partitions into two vestries and an organ 
chamber. Raised on two steps was the sanctuary with a stone screen of five segments dividing 
the elevated area from the surrounding aisle. The choir stalls were in the easternmost bay of 
the nave. The window design of the apse at ground level and at clerestory level exactly 
matched that of the still surviving nave with two light Gothic windows lighting the aisles and 
single lancets lighting the clerestory. In 1909 a Faculty was granted to demolish the eastern 
apse and replace it with a much larger square-ended and aisled chancel. This was built by 
John Gibbons (1850-1935) of Manchester and his son John Harold Gibbons (1878-1958), 
and the enlarged church was opened in 1911. 

As a result of the decision to demolish the apse at St. Chad’s, the materials from that 
church would be available from 1909 onwards. What appears to be shown on the Kitson 
Clark photograph are three sections out of five from the inner sanctuary wall; there is the 
same blank arcading with Gothic cusping that is shown on the architect’s plans. The floral 
capitals are small scale versions of the surviving nave capitals (by Mr. Ruddock of London) 
and the circular floral paterae can be matched in St. Chad’s and at Lichfield. The newness 
of the stonework forming the back wall of the garden ‘Cell’ is to be explained by the fact that 
the original wall carried mosaics, some of which were relaid in the north aisle floor of the 
enlarged chancel. The benches on which the two children and their dolls sit are also new 
features. When the photograph was taken, c. 1915, the folly would be about 5 years old. 


Reference: J. Sprittles, St. Chad’s Parish Church , Far Headingley, Leeds, Centenary Year 
1968: The First Hundred Years. 20 pp. (no publisher or date) 









































Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


243 


OBITUARY 

MAURICE BERESFORD, 

M.A., D.LITT. (HON.), F.B.A. (1920-2005) 


Our Society has been fortunate that one of this country’s leading economic historians 
chose to devote so much of his time and good-will to the interests of Claremont and its 
members. Although Professor Beresford was a scholar of national importance, associated 
especially with medieval village desertion and with new town plantations, this appreciation 
will emphasise his local contributions. 

Maurice was a big man, in physical bulk, in booming voice and infectious humour, in the 
magnitude of his projects and in the generosity of his spirit. Born an only child, he was 
educated at Sutton Coldfield before reading history at Jesus College, Cambridge. He was 
employed first in London and then in Birmingham on social work schemes, prompted by his 
socialist conscience and concern for the deprived in wartime society. He soon moved to an 
adult education centre in Rugby where his latent interest in medieval landscapes and village 
desertion could develop through local fieldwork in Warwickshire. His appointment as a 
lecturer in economic history in the School of Economics at Leeds University in 1948 enabled 
him to research further into landscapes and villages, both through fieldwork across Yorkshire 
and also by excavation at Wharram Percy. His survey of deserted medieval villages in Yorkshire 
was published in this journal in four instalments (1951-4) and was his only contribution to 
the journal apart from a paper on glebe terriers and open fields (1950) and a few reviews. 

The Warwickshire and Yorkshire deserted medieval village surveys established a pattern 
of scholarship based on national and local documents, maps and early photographs, and 
direct field observation. Beresford’s skill lay in identifying a historical phenomenon, 
researching the topic thoroughly at local or county level and then on that firm foundation 
widening the study into a national survey. This technique was successfully applied to medieval 
‘New Towns’. It was later used in early modern Leeds, examining first a compact group of 
streets and then tackling the bigger canvas of the Victorian city. The national study The Lost 
Villages of England (1954) led directly to his promotion to Reader in the following year, 
while his landscape study, jointly with Kenneth St. Joseph, Medieval England: an aerial 
survey (1958) was soon followed by his appointment to a newly-created post as Professor of 
Economic History. His inaugural lecture Time and Place (1961; enlarged book 1985) 
highlighted his two abiding emphases in economic history rather than person, motivation 
or deed: it was history with its feet planted securely on the ground. 

As a professor he was expected to participate fully in administration as dean or chairman 
of academic boards. These duties were carried out firmly but always fairly. More eagerly 
awaited were his contributions to Senate debates where he could deftly puncture the 
pomposity of the self-important or could in a few pithy sentences expose the frailty of some 
‘management-speak’ argument. This was an acerbic aspect he never displayed among the 
community of fellow researchers at Claremont. 

The excavations at Wharram Percy on the chalk wolds of east Yorkshire were begun in 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL JOURNAL 


1950 as a trial to verify the documentary evidence and to establish a date for the village’s 
desertion. This work continued for 40 years each July with Maurice as the social organiser 
or camp manager but with John Hurst providing the archaeological expertise for a loyal 
band of volunteers who endured the fairly primitive living conditions in a spirit of camaraderie. 
Many of these participants also assisted Maurice and John in running the Deserted Medieval 
Village Research Group until the two leaders ‘retired’ in 1986. This retirement was marked 
by a joint festschrift The Rural Settlements of Medieval England edited by three of their 
junior assistants, all of them now professors. The partnership of “the prolix professor and 
the taciturn Man from the Ministry’’ provided a research stimulus that extended throughout 
the British Isles and across Europe. This was the longest and most fruitful of a number of 
collaborations with fellow scholars and younger research students, as Maurice was always 
willing to share his expertise rather than jealously guard his own vast store of knowledge. 

After deserted villages Maurice sought a fresh challenge which he found in medieval ‘New 
Town’ plantations and failures. Again his local studies into settlements such as Wyke-on- 
Hull, Hedon and Ravenserodd on the Humber estuary formed a secure foundation before 
expanding the survey to cover all England, Wales and Gascony. This substantial publication 
(1967) was again followed by a change of direction. First was a sabbatical year spent at the 
College of William and Mary in Virginia where he was delighted to have the ‘new town’ of 
Williamsburg on his doorstep. Secondly he concentrated increasingly on Leeds, initially 
analysing the streets around the university where a memorable series of lectures and guided 
tours became Walks Round Redbrick (1980). This was followed by a thorough exploration 
of the local housing divide between artisan and factory owner in East End, West End: the 
face of Leeds during urbanisation, 1684-1842(1988). In both cases he recorded the changes 
through documents, photographs and direct observation ahead of building demolition. 
Professor Beresford’s retirement in 1985 was marked nationally by his election as a Fellow 
of the British Academy and, locally, by a characteristically reminiscent and frank exaugural 
lecture. Maurice was an excellent teacher and a witty and entertaining lecturer. He almost 
always used slides which prompted so many personal digressions that an hour’s lecture often 
extended far beyond the allotted time. Four honorary degrees and the post of Visiting 
Professor in Urban Histoiy at Strathclyde further distinguished his retirement, but his 
elevation to the title of emeritus professor and an honorary degree from the university he 
had served so faithfully gave him particular pleasure. He was also honoured when eighteen 
of his university colleagues contributed to an eightieth-birthday festschrift volume of Northern 
History. * 

At Claremont he was an active Patron to the Thoresby Society for over 20 years. To our 
own Society he gave almost unbroken service on Council from 1961 until he was elected 
Vice-President in 1987. He also served on the library and the editorial committees, attending 
assiduously and participating constructively, more especially after he moved from Adel to a 
house adjacent to Claremont. In Council a gently remonstrative comment could take the 
acrimony out of some hotly debated topic or a succinct contribution could give new focus 
and clarity to an otherwise meandering discussion. His penetrating questions at lectures, 
after an apparently comatose hour, would highlight some point left imperfectly explained or 
might add a pertinent example from a little-known documentary source. However there was 
never a parade of his own knowledge from any sense of superiority or to belittle the lecturer. 


MAURICE BERESFORD, M.A., D.LITT. (HON.), F.B.A. (1920-2005) 


245 


It was always the charitable side of Maurice that we saw at Claremont. 

His charity of action extended to visiting the socially deprived, young offenders and 
prisoners, and to hosting the strangers, whether touring actors or opera singers. His help 
also benefited the underdog - literally so with his succession of more-or-less house-trained 
mongrels of unprepossessing appearance. His fond dedication in Walks Round Redbrick is 
to ‘Lulu, companion in the walks whose four feet were usually there first’. 

In his retirement Maurice was very much at home in Claremont: indeed it might be 
regarded as the parlour and library extension of his own terraced house. Now at his death 
with characteristic generosity his two adjoining houses have become an extension of our 
premises and a resource donated for the society’s benefit and its pursuit of scholarship. We 
shall remember Maurice for his breadth of interests, his easy companionship and his 
generosity of spirit. We elected him as our vice-president but he has in reality become our 
patron. 


Lawrence Buder 


* E. A. Kirkby, ‘Maurice Beresford, the man, time and place’, Essays on Northern History in 
honour of Maurice W. Beresford: Northern History 37 (2000), 1-12. 




















BOOK REVIEWS 


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BOOK REVIEWS 

FERRYBRIDGE HENGE THE RITUAL LANDSCAPE. Archaeological Investigations at 
the Site of the Holmfield Interchange of the A1 Motorway. Yorkshire Archaeology 10, 2005. 
ed. I. Roberts. 30.3 x 21.7cm. Pp ix and 278. Figs. 141. Plates 32. Tables 26. Archaeology 
Services WYAS. £20 p+p £ 7 . ISBN 1 870453 36 0. 

This excellently produced monograph describes, in the main, the excavations that took 
place between 2001 and 2002 in advance of the A1 road improvements to the west of the 
Ferrybridge henge. I say, in the main, because also included are earlier pieces of work which 
remained either unpublished or published in interim form such as the two timber circles to 
the ESE of the henge (excavated in 1989), a trench over the field system and pit alignment 
(1990), the trenches through the henge itself (1991) and the trench excavated through the 
complex prior to the construction of the Yorkshire Water pipeline (1992). It is excellent to 
see this body of information brought together in a comprehensive and fully integrated way. 

The volume follows the basic format of the excavation report with sections on the local 
geology and topography, aims and objectives, past work and the current state of knowledge. 
There then follows a detailed account of the excavations, chronologically based from the 
Neolithic to the post Roman period. Specialist contributions discuss the artefacts (again 
chronologically ordered), the environmental investigations (including chemical analyses of 
the human bone - not strictly speaking environmental) followed by a discussion and synthesis. 
Various appendices support the main text. 

The text is also supported by numerous illustrations which include colour line drawings 
and full colour photographs. Often the excessive use of photographs lets down some volumes 
as their reproduction can often leave something to be desired. Not so with this volume: they 
are extremely well reproduced and the colour certainly enhances the volume. A quibble may 
be the use of a separate numbering system for plates and illustrations (I’ve always found this 
unnecessary unless the plates are grouped together) and many of the section drawings are 
somewhat schematic and look much more simple in the drawings than they appear in some 
of the photographs. However the close integration of text and illustrative material is generally 
excellent. 

The section on the excavated sites themselves is comprehensive in its description and 
coverage. Based more or less chronologically, each site (ring ditch, timber circle, hengiform, 
pit alignment, field systems etc) is discussed separately and in detail accompanied, as already 
said, by excellent plans and photographs. The section is also well-written, easy to use and the 
identification of contexts cited in the text is easy on the well-labelled plans. The paucity of 
finds is an area where the present writer feels empathy with the Ferrybridge team but 
nevertheless a suite of (generally) well-chosen radiocarbon dates saves the day. These dates 
are listed in appendix 3 though the calibration curve and methodology used are not cited. 
I’d also have preferred to have seen the probability of the date ranges illustrated on figs 123 
and 124 for otherwise it makes dates with large ranges rather difficult to interpret. To what 
extent, for excample, are the Neolithic dates being trapped by the ‘Middle Neolithic Plateau’ 
in the calibration curve? And does the early date for timber circle 165 really extend the date 
range for timber circles (p 199) when it is derived from oak charcoal? (Indeed, quite a few of 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


the Neolithic and Bronze Age dates are oak-derived -Appendix 3 - which lessens their 
reliability considerably). Perhaps there is a slight tendency to accept 14C dates at their face 
value. 


Despite the paucity of artefacts, there are some rather nice Beaker assemblages from the 
barrows and these are discussed in section 3. This section is perhaps the weakest part of the 
volume. The late Neolithic sherd is listed as illustrated on fig 108 but it is nowhere to be 
seen. There is little discussion of the technology of the ceramics nor indeed of their degree 
of completeness and thus their roles in the burial ritual. The later prehistoric and Romano- 
British ceramics are rather better treated with a discussion as to function analysis and 
deposition. The flint artefacts are also described and discussed well as is the rather spectacular 
Bronze Age and later metalwork. However because of individual specialisms, we have grave 
groups being split between various sections. Thus a Beaker grave group will be divided 
between, pottery, flint and bone artefacts and nowhere does it appear as a single assemblage 
(though admittedly the K19 grave group appears as a ‘Symbols of Power’ type photograph on 
P 48). 


The environmental section includes analysis of the human bone and some of the old 
questions about body completeness and the revisiting of graves raise themselves between 
the lines but are not, unfortunately tackled. Interestingly the instances of traumatised skeletal 
material seems quite high so at least this flavour of the month is on offer. As is isotope 
analysis though the fact that the skeletons were locals who ate herbivores is, perhaps, a less 
than astonishing conclusion. Sections on faunal remains, carbonised remains and soils 
complete the palaeoenvironmental picture. 

The general discussion section by Roberts and Richardson is an excellent resume and 
synthesis of the importance of the excavations and places each element of the site in its 
broader context with some interesting thoughts on monument orientation and alignment. 
There is a particularly fine discussion of the later Iron Age field systems and other elements 
as well as an overview of the development of the complex. 

Despite my quibbles, this is an information-packed volume on an area that has for some 
time been regarded as a bit of an archaeological (certainly prehistoric) desert. It is certainly 
a welcome additioOn to my bookshelves and I hope it reaches the wide audience that it 
deserves. 


Bradford 


Alex Gibson 


EXCAVATIONS AT TOPHAM FARM, SYKEHOUSE, SOUTH YORKSHIRE. A LATE 
IRON AGE AND ROMANO-BRITISH SETTLEMENT IN THE HUMBERHEAD 
LEVELS. By I. ROBERTS. 29.5 x 21 cm. Pp. iv and 33. Figs. 24. West Yorkshire Archaeology 
Service (Archaeological Services WYAS Publication 5) Morley. 2003. £5.00 (p + p £0.75). 
ISBN 1 870453 34 4. 

TWO LATE IRON AGE/ROMANO-BRITISH SETTLEMENT SITES NEAR 
WHITWOOD, WEST YORKSHIRE. By A. BURGESS and I. ROBERTS. 29.5 x 21 cm. Pp. 
iv and 39. Figs. 33. West Yorkshire Archaeology Service (Archaeological Services WYAS 
Publication 6) Morley. 2004. £5.00 (p+p £0.75). ISBN 1 870453 35 2. 


Yorkshire Archaeological Journal 78, 2006 


249 


THE IRON AGE SETTLEMENT AT LEDSTON. A REPORT ON THE EXCAVATIONS 
OF 1976 AND 1996. Edited by I. ROBERTS. 29.5 x 21 cm. Pp. iv and 36. Figs. 15. West 
Yorkshire Archaeology Service (Archaeological Services WYAS Publication 7) Morley. 2005. 
£5.00 (p+p £0.75). ISBN 1 870453 37 9 

ARCHAEOLOGICAL INVESTIGATIONS AT MORTON LANE, BEVERLEY, EAST 
YORKSHIRE. By R. McNAUGHT and A. WEBB. 29.5 x 21 cm. Pp. iv and 44. Figs. 21. West 
Yorkshire Archaeology Service (Archaeological Services WYAS Publication 8) Morley. 2005. 
£5.00 (p+p £0.75). ISBN 1 870453 35 5. 

THE MEDIEVAL CELLAR AT PONTEFRACT CASTLE. By I. ROBERTS. 20 x 21 cm. 
Pp. ii and 22. Figs. 22. Pates 15. West Yorkshire Archaeology Service, Morley. 2005. £2.00 
(p+p £0.75). ISBN 1 870453 38 7 

Publications available from Archaeological Services WYAS, PO Box 30, Nepshaw Lane 
South, Morley, Leeds, LS27 0UG. Cheques payable to Wakefield Metropolitan District 
Council’. 

A quick search of the Oxbow Books website failed to reveal any of the volumes listed here 
- a great pity for those not ‘in the know’. To leave Pontefract Castle aside for a moment the 
first four of the publications considered here form valuable additions to the Archaeology 
Services (WYAS) Publications series. This ‘Occasional Series’ as it is termed on their website 
continues to provide a vehicle for getting regionally important material into the public 
domain, much of which would either remain buried in ‘grey lit’ reports and only accessible 
by visiting the relevant Historic Environment Record (SMR) - future online access may 
alleviate this difficulty. However who wants to wait? 

The Topham Farm report describes the investigation of nine ring-gullies (roundhouses) 
that form part of a Late Iron Age and Romano-British enclosed settlement (second or first 
century BC to early third century AD), with two major phases being recognised within the 
excavated evidence. The structures were set within two major enclosures, within which 
further sub-enclosures were identified. The site produced a significant assemblage of Late 
Iron Age pottery as well as a reasonable assemblage of Roman pottery, and small quantities 
of flint, fired clay, animal bone and charred plant remains - the latter providing the material 
for seven radiocarbon (AMS) dates. The discovery of the site is described as ‘serendipitous’ 
given that prior to a speculative evaluation in advance of clay extraction ‘there was no 
evidence to indicate that there had been any activity in the Sykehouse area prior to the 
Medieval period’ (p. 5) and geophysical survey had only revealed recent field drains. The 
Iron Age pottery assemblage (110 or 111) sherds representing a maximum of 93 vessels) is 
particularly significant, given the paucity of pottery of this date in South and West Yorkshire. 
The Discussion chapter summarises the chronology and phasing, the form of the settlement 
and nature of the structures and briefly considers the limited evidence relating to the economy 
of the site before looking at it in its regional context. With respect to the latter it is suggested 
that the location of the site challenges the claim that the settlement of the Humberhead 
Levels was a short-lived Later Roman phenomenon, although the Levels likely function as 
political and cultural boundary during the Later Iron Age and the early Roman period 
stands. 

The two excavations, on sites some 2 km apart, considered in the Whitwood volume lie 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


south-west of Castleford and again primarily deal with evidence from the Late Iron Age and 
Romano-British periods, although one of the sites (Low Common) produced a small quantity 
of lithics of Mesolithic or early Neolithic date and some 91 sherds of medieval pottery, the 
latter apparently from at least five sub-phases of agricultural activity primarily of early twelfth 
to late thirteenth century date. At Low Common the structural sequence starts with a 
rectilinear field system possibly incorporating a double-ditched trackway, D-shaped enclosure 
and possibly a further rectilinear enclosure of late Iron Age or Early Roman date. This 
layout is replaced by a co-axial field system based on east-west sub-divisions between the 
major ditches of the preceding phase and incorporating evidence of possible occupation in 
sub-enclosure A located in the north-west corner of Enclosure VI and suggested as being of 
second-century date. The succeeding phase (? of second- to third-century date) was defined 
by the creation of a further sub-enclosure (B) in the south-east corner of Enclosure VI 
incorporating a clearly defined roundhouse - the evidence did not preclude the contemporary 
occupation of the two sub-enclosures. A fourth phase of occupation is suggested as belonging 
to the later Roman or sub-Roman period on stratigraphic grounds. The Whitwood Common 
report presents the evidence from the investigation of two phases of enclosure, the first, 
which incorporated a plough-damaged roundhouse, was of Late Iron Age to second-century 
date and the second of probable third- to fourth-century AD date. A curvilinear gully located 
west of this later enclosure may represent a vestige of a contemporary roundhouse, although 
this possibility is treated with caution by the authors. Interestingly, as with the later Roman 
or sub-Roman occupation at Low Common the later occupation at Whitwood Common 
apparently represents the partial reuse for linear features from the apparently abandoned 
earlier phases. A further shared phenomena is the existence of curvilinear gullies within the 
roundhouses at both Low Common and Whitwood Common, although they may be 
unassociated, a similar relationship is noted at Normanton. Ian Roberts provides a useful 
discussion of the sites in the context of the hinterland of Roman Castleford, noting that 
‘parts of the landscape around Castleford were clearly extensively exploited in the immediate 
pre-Roman Iron Age’ , but at the same time noting that while one cannot dismiss a link 
between the expansion of agriculture and the Roman military ‘... few excavated sites have 
yielded sufficient environmental ... evidence to support any notion of them being specialist 
arable or livestock producers (p. 35). Issues of landscape change and the nature of the later 
Roman occupation are also considered. 

The Ledston volume reports two excavations undertaken 20 years apart in 1976 and 1996 
on a cropmark complex located on the Magnesian Limestone north of Castleford apparently 
consisting of three irregular field units. In 1976 a single trench was excavated in response to 
agricultural erosion and three trenches excavated in 1996 formed part of the mitigation of 
the Yorkshire Water drought relief scheme. The earlier excavation targeted a concentration 
of pits that subsequently entered the literature as representing a large grain storage area, an 
interpretation that the report considered here challenges, preferring the concept of structured 
ritual deposition, with two pits incorporating human burials, one of which was radiocarbon- 
dated to the fourth to second centuries B.C. Elements of three further individuals were 
recovered from the fills of a ditch forming part of a D-shaped enclosure (Enclosure A). In 
addition a possible roundhouse and two possible four-post structures were investigated. 
The results of the 1996 excavations suggest that the associated settlement was dispersed in 


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character, probably being represented by discrete enclosures recognisable within the 
cropmarks. Unusually the 1996 excavations produced evidence for contemporary 
ironworking, including both smelting (including tap slags, furnace slag and hearth bottoms) 
in the vicinity of the excavated area, as well as smithing in close proximity to the site. The 
1976 project produced a range of material that warrants publication includes 102 sherds of 
Iron Age pottery, 94 lithics (+ a further 44 from fieldwalking) ranging from Late Mesolithic 
to Early Bronze Age in date, seven fragments of quern (3 beehive, one Mayen lava quern and 
three from flat querns) a bone ‘weaving comb’, and 1,026 fragments of animal bone. In the 
Discussion Ian Roberts provides useful considerations of: ‘chronology and phasing’ (four 
possible phases: Earlier prehistoric on the lithic evidence and cropmarks of four possible 
round barrows; PEarly/Middle Iron Age - D-shaped Enclosure A and possibly sub-rectangular 
Enclosure E; Late Iron Age - field system and pits; and second- to third-century Romano- 
British - Padaptation of field system); ‘The Iron Age field system’; ‘settlement and economy’; 
‘the pits’; and ‘the pit burials’. Perhaps the most important elements of the discussion are: the 
possible decoupling of the pits from the recurrent ‘southerno-centric’ interpretation of 
them as being for grain storage, although the possibility of a storage function is left open; the 
discussion of Iron Age burial practice in the context of the evidence from the region; and 
the consideration of the evidence for structured deposition. 

In contrast the Morton Lane, Beverley report considers the results of the excavation of 
twelfth- to later eighteenth-century deposits outside the presumed line on the eastern defences 
of the medieval town. The ASWYAS excavations (1999 and 2001 ) were on the north side of 
Morton Lane. What is particularly welcome is the inclusion in the volume as an appendix of 
a report on subsequent work to the south of Morton Lane by Pre-Construct Archaeology 
(PCA) in 2003-4. The ASWYAS excavations revealed six phases of occupation, with an 
apparent period of disuse between the mid thirteenth and fifteenth centuries - overall the 
archaeology is typified by pits and cut features, although in Phases IV and IVa (early to mid 
thirteenth century) structures and a cambered metalled track were recorded and Phase II 
(late twelfth century) is dominated by evidence of alleviation. The site produced significant 
finds assemblages, with pottery (1217 sherds) dominating - the bulk deriving from Area A, 
the open area closest to Morton Lane. In addition a significant assemblage of ceramic 
building material (brick and tile), the bulk belonging to Phase VI (fifteenth to seventeenth 
centuries), although deriving contexts that indicate that it is residual and in quantities that 
suggest that the building(s) from which it was derived lay beyond the excavated site - the 
presence of finial tiles suggesting that the source building was of high status. The site also 
produced eight crudely carved tile discs, a brick weights/net sinkers, a previously unknown 
(at least in our region) type of flat roof tile, ridge tiles with finial holes that may relate to 
repairs and a fragment of a flat roof tile with an Agnus Dei seal impression. Non-ceramic 
finds are dominated by iron objects (80%), with evidence of domestic and household activity 
being largely confined to objects from the Phase VI pits. In addition a small, but well- 
preserved animal bone assemblage was recovered, along with pollen, and significant plant 
macrofossils and macro-invertebrate remains. The Discussion, which takes account of the 
PCA work to the south, puts the results of the excavation into a site narrative that provides 
insights into this area of the town, notably the late twelfth or early thirteenth century (Phase 
III) reclamation of the area, extensive pitting and the possible division of the area into plots 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


or tenements. The PCA work south of Morton Lane revealed structural remains of late 
twelfth-century date, succeeded by a short-lived period of inundation that was superseded 
by further structures and some pitting (Phase II.3/II.4), followed by a break in occupation in 
the early fourteenth century. In contrast with the ASWYAS site it is possible that occupation 
resumed during the fourteenth centuiy, at least in the form of boundary ditches, and continued 
from then until the sixteenth century, with structures built over dumped deposits. A further 
difference is provided by evidence for structures in the post-medieval period. Small quantities 
of pottery, ceramic building material, pollen, invertebrate and vertebrate remains are reported 
on; the report concluding with a discussion that relates the evidence to that from the ASWYAS 
site and briefly examines it in the context of Beverley as a whole. 

The medieval cellar at Pontefract Castle has a fascinating history. Probably originating as 
a wine cellar in the Norman Period it was extended twice and in the Civil War served as a 
prison during the 1648-9 siege. The structural history occupies the first half of the volume 
and is a stoiy clearly told and well-illustrated with excellent plans, sections and photographs. 
The second half is devoted to the Civil War inscriptions, presumed to have been carved by 
the Parliamentarian prisoners, many of whom had formed the garrison of the castle prior to 
its fall to the Royalists. Forty-nine inscriptions are recorded, the more complete being 
illustrated with both line drawings and photographs, others by line drawings alone. The 
catalogue ends with a fairly lightly incised portrayal of a gallows that serves to emphasise the 
quality of the photographs - P Gwilliam getting a greatly deserved acknowledgement in the 
introductory matter for producing consistently good images from what must difficult have 
been subject matter. 

There are minor quibbles with the editing - in the Whitwood volume Stoertz 1997 (p. 22) 
lacks a page number and did Low Common produce 91 (p. 19) or 98 (p. 17) sherds of 
medieval pottery? The Ledston report has the lava quern found in 1976 as deriving from the 
topsoil (p. 19) and also from post-hole 003 (p. 25) - the latter would suggest the possibility of 
some very small-scale Roman-period, or later, activity within the excavated area, rather than 
all the limited Roman-period material deriving from a nearby source. In addition the lava 
quern fragment is not included in the consideration of the evidence for a Roman phase in 
the Discussion chapter (p. 30). However, it should be emphasised that these minor glitches 
do not detract from the overall value of the reports. 

The Archaeology Services WYAS Publications volumes are all A4 format and staple bound. 
Illustrations are generally clear, although with a tendency for some detail to be close to being 
lost on some pottery drawings (eg. Topham Farm Fig. 20 nos. 43a-45). However, the Morton 
Lane, Beverley report uses a higher quality paper and, possibly, a different printing process 
which appears to give a better finished result. 

Portsmouth Pete Wilson 


ROMAN YORK by Patrick Ottaway(2004) 24.8 x 17.2cm. Pp.160 Figs 86. Tempus 
Publishing. £17.99. ISBN 0 7524 2916 7 

Readers will no doubt be aware that this slim volume is a welcome reissue of the earlier 
English Heritage / Batsford title of the same name, published in 1993. The author is careful 


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253 


to note this lineage in the preface, and to outline the differences from the earlier publication. 
As he says, the publication over the last decade of important reports on the Minster as well 
as those on the defences and the pottery sequences within York add a welcome precision to 
his earlier, understandably more cautious, text. The major, and ‘unsettling’ change is noted 
here too: the re-dating of the Micklegate bathhouse (p.100) and, more significantly, the 
defences of the fortress and their multiangular towers, to the early third century. I shall 
return to this point later. While the decade between the two editions has been useful in 
adding precision (a nice example of this being the tying up of a graffito on leather found on 
the General Accident site with a centurial stone erected by Marcus Sollius Julianus on 
Hadrian’s Wall; p.102), there has been less welcome change too. Notably, the decrease in size 
from the earlier edition which has made the illustrations less easy to read in the new book 
where plans in particular suffer from over-reduction (e.g. Figure 40b - the plan of Blake 
Street). Also, the reformatting has resulted inevitably in changes leading to occasional 
references to non-existent illustrations (e.g. that to plate 18 on p.124). This is minor criticism, 
and I would rather highlight the author’s justified concern (p.22) over the fragmentation of 
understanding of the city’s archaeology that is being brought about by the PPG 16 environment 
so that the explosion of commercially financed excavation is no longer overseen by one 
organisation. Such developments in British archaeology will, in the future, inevitably hinder 
synthesis such as is offered in this volume and surely undermine the spirit of the 1979 
Archaeological Areas Act which was meant both to protect the complex archaeology of 
cities like York, and foster greater understanding of their history. Given this background, 
the author is to be commended for gathering together such a wealth of information and 
condensing it into a useful and thoughtful synthesis. 

In terms of balance, the bulk in the volume lies in the early Roman period, including the 
newly enhanced sections on the Severan period. Together, these elements now take on an 
even more dominant role in the narrative (over 100 pages in total, in contrast to the last 
century of Roman rule which is covered in fewer than 20). In this larger, first part of the 
book, the new sources of information referred to above come to the fore: the discussion in 
respect of whether the basilica had arcaded internal colonnades or not, for example raises 
interesting structural issues about the superstructure of this important building (p.40; at 
Wroxeter, we pondered the same issues for the baths basilica but there opted for timber 
lintels rather than arcades). The outlining of the pottery sequences now determined for the 
fortress and colonia is a valuable addition (p.55) and establishes the broad economic outlines 
of the settlement, a factor picked up later in the discussion of York’s notable evidence for 
foreign settlers and their often exotic religions (p. 105-7; 113-15). This is part of an extensive, 
and welcome, discussion of the civilian settlement of York that shifts the limelight away from 
the usually dominant concerns of the military and the layout of the fortress. There is now a 
range of information on different building types and we are at last reaching an understanding 
of the range of settlement in the colonia. Sections on the ecology and diet of the inhabitants 
demonstrate the wealth of archaeological data now available to colour our understanding of 
the settlement. 

For those working outside of York, the biggest and most interesting change, however, 
comes in the re-dating of the fortress wall to the Severan period. The evidence is outlined on 
p.67ff and can only be presented in a summarised form: this is not, after all, a full technical 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


report. Nonetheless, the conclusion that the fortress wall dates to this early period with such 
unusual features is remarkable to say the least. It may be a reflection of the importance 
placed on the elevation of York to the status of provincial capital and colonia at this time but 
I note that the new catalogue for the Constantine exhibition draws close parallels between 
the mutliangular towers in York with those of the early fourth century fortress palace of 
Gamzigrad [Felix Romuliana), while stopping short of re-dating the York wall to the late 
third or early fourth century (Bidwell 2006). While one cannot conjure evidence out of thin 
air for late Roman York, it is remarkable that the archaeology of the capital of Britannia 
Secunda can be dealt with so briefly. Given the evidence for the increasing wealth of 
Cirencester due to its role as capital of Britannia Prima (Faulkner, in Holbrook 1998, 379- 
384) it is indeed odd that York does not exhibit a similar pattern, benefiting as it must have 
done from the location of the provincial administration and army there. If there were any 
period that deserves more attention, it is surely this latest phase, whose potential magnificence 
is so aptly celebrated in York City Museums and Art Gallery’s exhibition of 2006. Hopefully, 
by the time a third edition is due, there will be substantially more to say about this valuable 
and important period in York’s history to enhance an otherwise excellent work. 

University of Birmingham Dr Roger White 


ROMAN MOSAICS AT HULL (3 rd edn.). By D. J. SMITH (revised by M. FOREMAN). 26.5 
x 20 cm. Pp 50. Figs. 21 (most in colour). Hull Museums and Art Gallery, 2005. £4.99. ISBN 
0904490 34 3 (Pbk). 

Those of us interested in Roman Yorkshire are fortunate in that we have the benefit of 
Hull Museum’s wonderful collection of mosaics to hand, a collection all the more remarkable 
given the relative dearth of highly Romanised sites in our region. 

The third edition of this remarkable guide benefits not only from the scholarship of Dr 
Smith and revisions arising from our developing understanding of the mosaics, but also 
from excellent colour photographs and eight of Dr David Neal’s wonderful tessera by tessera 
paintings. For those whose interests take in Roman-period archaeology, and are not fortunate 
enough to have access to Dr Neal and Stephen Cosh’s ‘Northern Britain’ volume in the 
Mosaics of Roman Britain senes (published 2002), this publication, which modestly describes 
itself as a ‘booklet’ (p. 6), is an essential purchase. In intent and execution it is far more than 
a series of descriptions of the mosaics from the villas at Rudston, Brantingham, Horkstow 
and Harpham displayed in the Hull and East Riding Museum. 

It is possible to identify what may perhaps be best described as ‘niggles’ that arise from a 
close reading. A site plan is provided for Rudston and is most welcome; unfortunately both 
the site plan (Fig. 2) and the plan of Building 8 (Fig. 7) are orientated with north towards the 
bottom corner. This perhaps makes for a neater design, and, in the case of Building 8 
provides what is perhaps the ideal view of Dr Neal’s painting of the charioteer mosaic that, 
with its fellows from the building, is superimposed onto the plan. However readers familiar 
with the site will need to engage in mental gymnastics when using the plans in any 
consideration of the site! That having been said it might have been better for plans of the 
structures that contained the mosaics to have been included where possible (Brantingham 
and Harpham) despite them representing single elements of what would have been more 


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extensive complexes. 

Those considerations aside this is a book about mosaics and with respect to its core 
subject matter it is difficult to fault it. Going far beyond simple descriptions of the designs 
we are informed in clear language about the circumstances of discovery, the mythology 
represented and parallels for the designs. All of this is supported by a glossary that explains 
any terms used in the text that might be unfamiliar to the reader, as well as incorporating 
potted ‘biographies’ of gods represented in the mosaics. In addition there is a very useful 
bibliography, running to some 85 entries. 

The descriptions of the Rudston mosaics, perhaps surprisingly to many readers not familiar 
with the subject, make several references to parallels with the mosaics of North Africa, as 
well as the wider Roman world. Examples include: citing the ‘stage names’ of animals that 
would have appeared in the amphitheatre; the appearance of the attributes of Bacchus; and 
the use of motifs such as the ‘crescent on a stick’ - the symbol of the venatores Telegeniorum 
- a team of animal fighters known from North Africa. While suggesting that the commissioning 
of such designs by the inhabitants of Roman Yorkshire points to the ‘vitality of Roman 
culture on the northern fringe of the civilised world’, the text at the same time keeps our feet 
very firmly on good Yorkshire soil. The quality of the draughtsmanship of the Venus mosaic 
is recognised as potentially the work of ‘a semi-skilled native British craftsman’, as is the 
likely derivation of the designs ‘from copybooks ultimately of African origin’, rather than 
reflecting first hand experience of Africa Proconsularis. 

Whatever the technical considerations it is difficult not to have warm feelings towards the 
Rudston Charioteer, the Brantingham ‘Tyche’ and the other mosaics featured. Debased they 
may be when compared with the ‘high art’ of sites in the Mediterranean, but in fourth- 
century Yorkshire they must have been things of wonder. Even the apparently simple geometric 
mosaic from Harpham is a thing of beauty. The visual allusion in the mosaic to the Minotaur’s 
labyrinth would have been lost on the tenants of the villa owner. However, if they were 
allowed anywhere near the room containing the mosaics they must still have been awestruck 
by what they found under their feet. 

The quality of the illustrations has been referred to previously and the production of the 
text is to a similarly high standard, this makes for an extremely attractive publication at a 
very modest price. 

Portsmouth Pete Wilson 


RIEVAULX ABBEY AND ITS SOCIAL CONTEXT, 1132-1300. MEMORY, LOCALITY 
AND NETWORKS. By Emiliajamroziak. Brepols, Medieval Church Studies 8, Turnhout 
2005, pp. xii + 252. 

Monastic cartularies are among the most plentiful sources for the history of twelfth- and 
thirteenth-century England. Few high medieval cartularies, however, have been subjected to 
the detailed scrutiny given to that of Rievaulx Abbey by Emiliajamroziak. In an insightful 
and lucid study, Jam roziak examines the ways in which this major Cistercian house related 
to its patrons, benefactors and neighbours, both lay and ecclesiastical. The Rievaulx cartulary 
is of particular interest as one of the earlier Cistercian cartularies (dating to the late twelfth 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


centuiy), and for its organisation of charters by tenurial rather than topographical principles 
- allowing Jamroziak to draw conclusions about the abbey’s early identity and the relative 
value it placed on particular grants and benefactors. 

After providing a broad historiographical context for her research (with particular 
reference to recent Cistercian studies), Jamroziak explores the Rievaulx community’s 
relationships with different categories of neighbour. After the death of the house’s founder, 
Walter Espec, the abbey did not enjoy close relations with its new patrons, the Ros family. 
Rievaulx, however, attracted patronage from a wide range of baronial benefactors, and an 
even greater number of its knightly neighbours. Jamroziak discusses sensitively the nature 
of the connections between abbey and local aristocracy, showing how lasting social ties were 
forged by the process and equalisation of benefaction, the confirmation of others’ grants 
and the witnessing of charters. The regular land disputes faced by the monks are also discussed 
and placed in the context of wider social and tenurial networks. These themes of mutual 
support and conflict are then studied in the ecclesiastical sphere, through an examination of 
Rievaulx’s varied contacts with other monasteries and with the ecclesiastical authorities of 
the northern province. 

Throughout the study, Jamroziak brings out well the tension between the abbey’s need to 
create fruitful social ties while preserving its Cistercian character. The early abbots of 
Rievaulx succeeded in building up a large landed endowment, without allowing the house to 
fall under the strong influence of any one family. Similarly, the monastery maintained good 
relations with the archbishops of York and the bishops of Durham, partly through personal 
contacts and partly through its (apparently pragmatic) reluctance to acquire tithes. Yet 
Jamroziak sensibly argues for studying Rievaulx in its local context, rather than judging the 
house by its success or failure to live up to the statutes of the general chapter. Indeed, one of 
the most interesting conclusions of the book is the author’s suggestion that the Yorkshire 
Cistercians had more in common with their Polish or Silesian equivalents than with French 
houses, so often taken as the normative yardstick of the order. 

This wider geographical perspective is undoubtedly one of the book’s greatest strengths, 
although there is also much of value here for the student of Yorkshire monasteries, topography 
and social elites. There are of course limitations to what a cartulary can tell us about the 
history of a monastic community, with the inevitable emphasis on land holding and property 
disputes; and the relatively small size of the Rievaulx archive sometimes makes it difficult to 
draw wider conclusions, or test broader hypotheses. The early date of the cartulary also 
means that this study reveals rather more about the twelfth-century phase of the abbey’s 
development than the consolidation, leasing and purchase of property in the thirteenth 
century. Nevertheless, Emiliajamroziak’s book demonstrates how fruitful the close study of 
individual cartularies can be for deepening our understanding of the relations between 
monasteries and society. 

University of Liverpool Martin He ale 


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257 


MASS AND PARISH IN LATE MEDIEVAL ENGLAND: THE USE OF YORK. Edited by 
P.S. Barnwell, Claire Cross and Ann Rycraft. 18.5 cm x 24.5 cm. Pp. 224. Spire Books Ltd., 
Reading, 2005. Price: £24.95. ISBN 1 904965 02 4. 

The Use of York, the liturgical tradition of the pre-Reformation diocese and province of 
York, is very much the poor relation to the Use of Sarum (or Salisbury), which by 1500 was 
the dominant liturgy the neighbouring province of Canterbury. Relatively under-studied, 
the York Use bore testimony to the vibrant regionalisation of the English church before the 
uniformity imposed with adherence to the Church of England in the sixteenth century. 

This volume’s sub-title suggests that the balance in liturgical studies may be somewhat 
redressed by its content, but that does not actually happen. The Use of York only becomes 
significant in Section 2, as attention focuses on the Requiem Mass in the York rite, 
culminating in a parallel English and Latin text (pp. 147-71) produced by P.S. Barnwell, Allan 
B. Barton, and Ann Rycraft. Before that, the same authors give An introduction to the 
Requiem Mass in the Use of York’, and John Hawes and Lisa Colton add A note on the 
reconstructed Requiem Mass held at All Saints’, North Street, York, on 20 April 2002’. That 
mass was offered for the prominent York merchant, Nicholas Blackburn, jr. (d. 1448); it 
provided the stimulus for the talks, which lie behind the articles in Section 1, on ‘The Mass 
and church life in late-medieval York’. These occupy the greater part of the volume, dealing 
with various aspects of religious practice and organisation within the city. Some of them are 
outline, but useful, introductions; others more specific case studies. Claire Cross and P.S. 
Barton begin by putting ‘The Mass in its urban setting’. Allan B. Barton offers an introduction 
to ‘The ornaments of the altar and the ministers in Late-Medieval England’, dealing primarily 
with vestments. Lisa Colton briefly examines ‘Choral music in York, 1400-1540’. In “‘Four 
hundred masses on the four Fridays next after my decease”. The care of souls in fifteenth- 
century All Saints’ North Street, York’, P.S. Barnwell provides a parish-centred analysis of 
late medieval ‘strategies for eternity’, particularly among the laity. Claire Cross then turns to 
the clergy, to consider ‘A York priest and his parish: Thomas Worrall at St Michael, 
Spurriergate, York, in the early sixteenth century’. She also provides the last article in this 
section - entitled ‘Endings and beginnings’ - which deals with the changes of the Reformation, 
through to the reign of Elizabeth. 

This is an interesting volume. Accessibly written, and abundantly illustrated, it certainly 
works as an introduction to ‘mass and parish in late medieval England', especially with its 
useful pictures of vestments and various stages of the mass (the latter neatly juxtapose 
modern photographs with illustrations from a sixteenth-century book which tackled such 
choreographic issues). The focus on York, and on concrete (and extant) parochial and 
architectural settings, also helps to make it work. It is a real contribution to York’s religious 
history; it should be of wider interest both within and without Yorkshire; it can also be 
recommended to students as a way into the practicalities of medieval religion. 

University of Birmingham 


R. N. Swanson 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


LONDESBOROUGH HOUSE AND ITS COMMUNITY, 1590-1643. By Richard T. Spence, 
edited by A. Hassell Smith. 30 x 21 cm. Pp 115. Figs 9. Pis 21. East Yorkshire Local History 
Society, 2005. Price: £ 10 (inc. p. & p.). ISBN 900349 53 0. Obtainable from A. G. Credland, 
c/o Hull Maritime Museum, Queen Victoria Square, Hull, HU 1 3RA. 

On her marriage in the mid fifteenth century to John Clifford, subsequently ninth Baron 
Clifford, Margaret Bromflete, heir of Henry Bromflete, Lord Vescy, brought Londesborough 
to the Clifford family. Their patrimony, now stretching from the Humber to the Solway 
Firth, continued to be administered from Skipton Castle until the last decade of Elizabeth’s 
reign when Lord Francis Clifford, who was managing the estates for his elder brother, 
George Clifford, third earl of Cumberland, courtier and privateer, decided to settle at 
Londesborough. Having acquired the East Riding lands from the impoverished third earl in 
1588, a year before his marriage to Grissell Hughes, the young widow of Edward Neville, 
seventh Lord Abergavenny, Francis Clifford immediately began building a grand three storey 
mansion with a formal pleasure garden, bowling green, orchard, and woods adjoining the 
Vescy manor house. The family, which until then had been living at Lady Grissell’s house at 
Uxbridge, moved into their new house in 1592. Thirteen years later on the premature death 
of his brother Francis Clifford succeeded to the title as the fourth earl of Cumberland, and 
for the next forty years, although the family from time to time resided at Skipton Castle and 
their other houses in Craven, Westmorland and London, Londesborough remained the 
chief focus of the estate. 

The chance survival of a series wage lists and other papers has made it possible to 
reconstruct the household which inhabited this house in very considerable detail. In addition 
to the family, which at various dates in the 1590s consisted of Lord Clifford, his wife and 
their three children, Lady Clifford’s eldest brother Robert Hughes, his wife and their seven 
children, and the five orphaned nephews and nieces of Lord Clifford’s late sister, there were 
the senior officers, the steward, usher and chamberlain, a chaplain, schoolmaster, professional 
musicians, gentlewomen attendants, and an array of domestic servants together with 
numerous out servants called in to perform duties when required. On inheriting the title the 
new earl needed to recruit even more servants including some of his brother’s most 
experienced officers, and the household doubled in size. While some might spend only a 
short period in noble service, Lady Grissell’s young gentlewomen for a mere two or three 
years before their marriage, and the kitchen boys and the laundry girls for an equally short 
time while they learnt a trade, many of the senior officers and more important domestics 
stayed with the family for the whole of their adult lives. 

Richard Spence left this innovatory household study unfinished at his death. It has been 
revised for publication by A. Hassell Smith, who has also supplied a scholarly introduction. 

University of York Claire Cross 


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259 


YORK AND THE JACOBITE REBELLION OF 1745. By Jonathan Oates, University of 
York, Borthwick Paper 107, 2005, pages [iv], 38. 

Dr Oates obtained his Ph.D. at Reading University with a thesis on ‘Responses in North 
East England to the Jacobite Rebellions of 1715 and 1745’. This clearly stood him in good 
stead for writing this Borthwick Paper, as a study of the footnotes reveals. There are no 
fewer than 254 of them, taking up more than six of the pamphlet’s 38 pages, which is surely 
disproportionate? They cite an impressive range of manuscripts located in Leeds, London, 
Sheffield and York, as well as numerous printed sources and secondary authorities. This is 
about as authoritative a text as is likely ever to be published on the subject of York’s response 
to the ‘Forty - five. 

It also casts light on national concerns. Jacobitism has attracted a great deal of attention in 
recent years. Many historians claim that it was a significant phenomenon, with considerable 
support in the country, particularly among the Tories and the lower orders. It has even been 
maintained that the 1745 Rebellion came near to toppling the Hanoverians from their throne. 
Certainly the advance of the Young Pretender as far as Derby put the wind up many supporters 
of the regime. Yet he turned back to Scotland and defeat at Culloden because his best 
advisers became aware that they were not recruiting enthusiastic supporters as they advanced 
south. 

This study demonstrates that in one local community at least there was overwhelming 
support for George II among his subjects. The Whigs of course came out for him. But the 
Tories too demonstrated their loyalty. Even the Catholics did not stir on behalf of ‘James IIP. 
Though their political opponents suspected them of disloyalty only a handful of overt Jacobites 
are known. There were of course those who were thought to be covert upholders of the 
Stuart cause. Among the usual suspects was Dr John Burton, who made a very suspicious 
journey to Lancashire at the height of the rebellion. Yet as Oates points out, if he had been 
a genuine Jacobite he could have joined the Young Pretender’s army which made its way 
down the west side of the country, thereby avoiding York. It has even been suggested recently 
that the young painter George Stubbs, who was studying anatomy in the city hospital under 
Burton, might have been a Jacobite too. But that is to attribute guilt by association. Stubbs’ 
true political allegiance is probably demonstrated by his most famous painting, ‘Whistiejacket’, 
a horse owned by the marquis of Rockingham, leader of the Whigs in the first years of 
George Ill’s reign. It has even been claimed that the painting was intended as an equestrian 
portrait of the king. 

York can reasonably be taken as a microcosm of England’s provincial towns at the time of 
the ‘Forty-five. In which case Dr Oates has hammered yet another nail in the coffin of the 
case for Jacobitism having wide support. 


W. A. Speck 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


YORKSHIRE RETURNS OF THE 1851 CENSUS OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP, volume 2, 
West Riding (North), edited by John Wolffe, Borthwick Texts and Studies 31, Borthwick 
Institute, University of York (2005), ISBN 1-904497-10-1, ISSN 0305 8506. Pp. vi + 183; 

YORKSHIRE RETURNS OF THE 1851 CENSUS OF RELIGIOUS WORSHIP, volume 3, 
West Riding (South), edited by John Wolffe, Borthwick Texts and Studies 32, Borthwick 
Institute, University of York (2005). Pp. vi + 200; 

THE RELIGIOUS CENSUS OF 1851 IN YORKSHIRE by John Wolffe, Borthwick Paper 
108, Borthwick Institute, University of York (2005) ISSN: 0624-0913, ISBN 1-904497-15-2, 
978-1-904497-15-8. Pp. 33. 


The 1851 Religious Census has enabled historians to know more about what was happening 
on the 30th March of that year, at least as regards religious observance, than on any other 
day in the nineteenth century. As such the Census has been much consulted, although the 
lack of modern scholarly editions has meant that the information used has often been 
misleading, and in any case historians have been too apt to view the contemporary pessimism 
about the results of the Census (first voiced by Horace Mann, who had been responsible for 
master-minding the Census) as authoritative, leading them to argue that the Census is ‘proof 
of a decline in religiosity in the Victorian period. John Wolffe’s careful work on the Yorkshire 
returns, published by the Borthwick Institute, continues with the publication of these three 
volumes. He has previously published the first volume of the Yorkshire returns, relating to 
the City of York and the East Riding, and that volume contained a thorough introduction to 
the editorial method used in the two volumes reviewed here which present us with the 
returns for the West Riding. He has also published a spin-off article which helpfully addresses 
the historiographical issues raised by the Yorkshire evidence, and which provides us with 
an extremely thoughtful analysis of the 1851 Census as source material, exposing its limitations 
and highlighting the possibilities it opens up for historical research. The West Riding material 
is noteworthy for the large number of returns, nearly 2,000 of them, which is more than for 
some other entire counties, and thus these volumes give us a mass of evidence relating the 
date when places of worship were built, the number of sittings, the number of attendees at 
morning, afternoon and evening services (if offered), and there is often information about 
endowments. Names and positions of the compiler (or at least signatory) of each return are 
noted. The returns also provided space for more general ‘Remarks’, and while the chance to 
use this was not often taken up, the information that was recorded is often illuminating 
about religious practice. We learn, for example, that at the Wesleyan Methodist Chapel at 
Todmorden, the quarterly love feast was held on Census day, and that ‘Sunday scholars are 
not admitted on these occasions’. The Congregational Chapel on High Street, Bradford, was 
closed on Census day ‘on account of it having been painted the previous weeks’. The sheer 
range of religious denominations and positions on offer in the West Riding in the mid- 
nineteenth century is also instructive: Adventists, Anglicans, Atheists, Baptists, Benevolent 
Methodists, Plymouth Brethren, Barkerites, Roman Catholics, Christian Brethren 
Congregationalists, Baptists, Irvingites, ‘Israelites’, Jews, Latter-day Saints, Methodists (of 
various hues), Presbyterians, Quakers and Swedenborgians. While the material in the Census 
is laid out in a clear fashion, Wolffe might have provided rather more by way of annotation: 


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it would, for example, not have been difficult to have given the reader basic biographical 
information on some, if not most, of the individuals mentioned in the text, whether as 
ministers, or other officials involved with the place of worship concerned. It would have 
been a nice touch to have included contemporary prints and drawings of at least some of 
these places of worship (as Mark Smith did in his recent edition of the 1810 surveys of 
Hampshire). Nevertheless, those interested in the Victorian West Riding will be grateful to 
Wolffe for giving a definitive edition of the Census results. 

His spin-off article, also published by the Borthwick Institute, although naturally focused 
on the Yorkshire material, is also the most insightful essay to date on the more general 
significance of the Census, and the methodological issues it raises. As such, it will be of use 
to scholars working on all areas of the country. Wolffe carefully assesses the strengths and 
limitations of the Census. Some places of worship did not make it into the Census: perhaps 
just under 2% of Anglican places, and rather more nonconformist places were missed out, as 
were chapels in gaols and workhouses, and Sunday Schools with places of worship attached. 
A few returns went missing. This means that the Census understates the number of attendees 
in some localities. It is clear, too, that the clerks in London responsible for the number- 
crunching muddled up similar sounding names place-names. On the other hand, there is 
evidence that figures were rounded up, and indeed Wolffe suggests that for those returns 
which were clearly not based on an actual head count the figures might have to be to be 
reduced by as much as 20%. He admits that at a national or even regional level these 
understated and overstated figures probably compensate each other, although he is clear 
that for any particular locality the returns need to be looked at carefully, and cross-checked 
with other information. Wolffe addresses three questions which all historians who use the 
data in the Census need to think about. How typical was Census day; how do the number of 
individual attendees relate to attendances (since some attended more than once); and what 
does the Census tell us about broader religious trends in? Wolffe notes that overall attendance 
was affected by a particularly nasty bout of ‘flu in the region, and that it was a rainy day in 
parts of Yorkshire (both of which stopped people from attending); and in general it was 
noted that more people would have attended in the summer (but not at Robin Hood’s Bay 
where the fishermen would have been at sea). It is also clear that not everyone would attend 
every week. Horace Mann dealt with the problem of some people attending a place of 
worship twice or even three times, by suggesting that to arrive at a figure of how many 
individuals attended, all attendances at morning service, half those at afternoon service, and 
a third of those at evening service should be added up. Wolffe indicates that this methodology 
does not always work for Yorkshire, where sometimes the afternoon service was the most 
frequently attended service. As for placing the Census within a broader picture of Victorian 
religiosity Wolffe makes the important point that using it as evidence of religious decline is 
impossible since we simply do not have comparable sources for earlier periods. But some 
things can be said. The information concerning the date when a religious place of worship 
was built demonstrates that the number of places of worship in Yorkshire had tripled during 
the past fifty years (and the growth of Methodism was particularly impressive, leading it to 
have more places of worship and more attendees than the established Church by 1851). 
Wolffe also stresses that some people went to more than one denomination, and that traffic 
could be particularly fluid between Methodists and Anglicans. All in all he concludes that 
nineteenth-century Yorkshire was ‘more religious’ than might have been thought by an 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


initial viewing of the Census, and Wolffe’s conclusion needs to be tested for other areas of 
the country as well. 

University of Manchester Jeremy Gregory 

SHOPS, SHAMBLES AND THE STREET MARKET: RETAILING IN GEORGIAN 
HULL, 1770 TO 1810. By Ann Bennett. Oblong Creative Ltd.; Wetherby, 2005) 
ISBN 0 9536574 8 5 p p . 1 6 3 ; 70 illustrations, 8 tables. 

This fascinating history of retailing in Georgian Hull will be of interest to regional specialists 
and historians of later eighteenth-century consumption more generally. Ann Bennett combines 
detailed research into local records with supporting fieldwork in the National Archives and 
other collections. The resulting book is generously illustrated with seventy images, including 
rare examples of bill-heads and trade cards. 

Commercial directories reveal that the number of shops in Hull increased from 403 in 
1791 to 669 by 1810-11. While the overall rate of growth was roughly commensurate with the 
rise in the number of inhabitants (approximately one shop per fifty persons at both dates), 
the clothing sector proved more dynamic and grew faster than the population. Data derived 
from the 1785-6 shop tax (and other sources) reveal that, by the later eighteenth century, a 
distinct, fashionable retail centre had developed in Hull selling high-value merchandise. 
These outlets displayed innovation in marketing techniques and the range of products on 
sale. By the 1790s, London- and Manchester- made goods were commonly advertised: 
particularly fashionable items, such as high-waisted Grecian-style gowns, Egyptian satins, 
and Arabian tunics. Newspaper advertisements, trade cards, and handbills indicate that by 
this time Hull’s drapers and tailors were also using commercial travellers to sell in other 
urban centres. Within Hull itself, the rise of a ready money trade for low marked prices 
indicates that the clothing trade was a keenly competitive business. 

Alongside newer developments, Bennett demonstrates that innovation also occurred in 
more traditional sectors. Hull had long functioned as a market centre for imported and 
locally produced groceries. Butter and meat products were shipped to London in large 
quantities, but significant amounts of these items were retained in the town for local sale. 
This circumstance helps explain why fish dealers were outnumbered by butchers in Hull. 
The market for meat was so extensive that it supported the construction of two architecturally 
elaborate shambles between 1771 and 1807. By the third quarter of the eighteenth century, 
grocers were operating increasingly diversified businesses. Their stock lists might include 
items such as gunpowder, shot, and cleaning materials. 

Bennett’s survey of trading conditions in Hull includes discussion of the influence of 
economic fluctuations on the fortunes of the town’s traders. A short but valuable survey of 
bankruptcy compares trends in Hull with the rest of the country. The book also presents 
some useful series of food prices, derived from the Burton Constable household accounts, 
which indicate that the cost of living increased markedly during the period under examination. 
Rounding off this beautifully produced volume are biographical profiles of two prominent 
and wealthy businessmen: William Rust (watchmaker and silversmith) and Thomas Scatcherd 
(grocer and tea-dealer). 

University of York 


S.D. Smith 


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263 


BRADFORD POOR UNION: PAPERS AND CORRESPONDENCE WITH THE POOR 
LAW COMMISSION, OCTOBER 1834 TO JANUARY 1839. Edited by Paul Carter. 23 x 
15 cm. Pp. xlviii + 226. 7 b/w illustrations, 6 line illustrations. YAS Record Series vol. CLVII 
for 2003. Woodbridge: The Boydell Press, 2004. Price: Hardback £40 ($80). 
ISBN 0902122959. 

The New Poor Law (Poor Law Amendment Act) of 1834 established a new model of 
government. Parishes which had, since 1601, been responsible for poor relief were merged 
into unions of parishes controlled by ratepayer elected boards of guardians. A central 
authority - the Poor Law Commission, later (1847) the Poor Law Board, then (1871) the 
Local Government Board, and finally (1918-1929) the Ministry of Health- was established in 
Whitehall. Its task was to introduce uniformity of poor relief practice, particularly the 
restriction of outdoor relief, throughout England and Wales, using Assistant Commissioners 
(later Inspectors) to set up unions, visit them and advise upon best practice. 

Correspondence between the central and the local authorities was, and is, crucial to an 
understanding of how this system functioned. It led to the growth of massive files of 
correspondence between centre and locality, all of it preserved in chronological order and 
listed alphabetically by union in Series MH 1 2/ at the Public Record Office - now called, for 
some obscure reason, the National Archives, at Kew. Paul Carter, from the National Archives, 
has accurately reproduced in this volume the contents of just one file, MH12/14720, which 
contains the correspondence between the new Poor Law Commission, the Bradford 
(Yorkshire) Board of Guardians and others in the town and its vicinity with concerns about 
the administration of the new legislation. The period covered by the file, October 1834 to 
January 1839, was a key one in the history of the New Poor Law, as the West Riding was the 
epicentre of a furious resistance to its implementation. This erupted in Bradford when an 
unfortunate Assistant Commissioner, Alfred Power, came to establish the new union in 
1837. 

Opposition came from two directions. Tories like Richard Oastler, the factory reformer, 
and the Reverend G. S. Bull, an Anglican parson from Bierley, a parish in the proposed 
Bradford Union, furiously attacked the new system which they saw as oppressing the poor 
and interfering with the traditional methods of parochial poor relief. Many parish officers 
shared their dislike of the new system, feeling that there was no necessity for it in the 
industrial areas of northern England, where relief had been efficiently organised in contrast 
to the “Speenhamland” counties of the south and east. At the other end of the political 
spectrum were working class leaders such as Bradford’s Peter Bussey, using their influence 
in the town’s radical movement to arouse popular opposition to the New Poor Law with 
speeches, leaflets and demonstrations. This culminated in a riot in November 1837 when 
the new Board of Guardians attempted to meet. Alfred Power and his servant were assaulted 
and a troop of cavalry had to be summoned to restore order. Accounts of these dramatic 
events, as witnessed by a number of correspondents including Alfred Power and the clerk to 
the Bradford Union, John Reid Wagstaff, occupy a large section of this collection and make 
fascinating reading, especially for anyone interested in the state of law and order in the early- 
Victorian town. Other letters cover the election of the new board of guardians, and queries 
about the relationship between the old system of overseers and churchwardens and the new 
board of guardians. These illuminate the intricate minutiae of early nineteenth centuiy local 


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YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY 


government in a way which no secondary source can adequately convey. 

Paul Carter prefaces the documentary material with an excellent 48 page Introduction, 
setting it in the context of the development of English poor relief since 1601, and of the social 
and economic growth of early nineteenth century Bradford. The reader comes well prepared 
to the complexity of the documentary material. Local historians will find much of interest 
here, whilst even a single volume of MHI2/ during this disturbed period should provide the 
basis of an A-Level topic or even an undergraduate dissertation. Those wishing to delve 
further into the English poor law will find it a useful introduction to the MH 1 2/ series before 
having to journey to Kew and dig out the relevant volumes. As the editor points out, there is 
no useable index. The researcher has to work through many volumes to discover nuggets of 
historical gold like those displayed in this volume. The early volumes, in my experience, 
tend to contain the most interesting material. As one burrows on, the volumes become 
heavier (and dustier) but contain a great many rather repetitive, official forms and returns. 
Bureaucracy’s dead hand becomes ever more apparent. 

This is a very well produced book which will generate interest in poor law studies, an area 
which few local historians can avoid encountering at some point in their work. It may 
encourage some to delve into the massive MHI2/series. Those who do should go wearing 
suitable clothing. A cloud of dust will rise from each, hitherto unopened, box. 

University of Manchester Michael E. Rose 






All communications about the editorial side of the Journal should be addressed to either, the Hon. Archaeology Editor, 
Jill Wilson, 331 Havant Road, Farlington, Portsmouth, P06 1DD (Tel. 02392-370649, e-mail 
pandjwilson@btopenworld.com ), or the Hon. History Editor, Edward Royle, 77 Heworth Green, York, Y031 7TL (Tel. 
01904-423009, e-mail eroyle@eroyle77.freeserve.co.uk d Contributions should be prepared in accordance with the Society’s 
Notes for Contributors. A printed copy of these may be had from the Editors, who will be happy to discuss informally any 
proposed article on the archaeology or history of the historic County of Yorkshire at any period. The Notes for contributors 
are also available on the Society’s website. 

Enquires about the Society’s publications should be addressed to the Sales Officer, at Claremont, 23 Clarendon 
Road, Leeds, LS2 9NZ, from whom a List of Publications, regularly updated, may be obtained. Volumes of the 
Yorkshire Archaeological Journal horn. vols. 62-76 are available at cost £8 each (members) and £12 (non-members), vol. 
77 £20 (members) and £25 (non-members), plus postage and packing. For prices of earlier issues and offprints of recent 
articles, please apply to the Sales Officer. 

The Society’s other publications include: 

YAS Parish Register Series Registers for over 170 parishes. Some early volumes are available on microfiche or CD. 
Yorkshire Archaeological Reports 
YAS Occasional Papers 
Wakefield Court Rolls Series 

YAS Record Series A small stock of recent volumes is kept at Claremont, together with microfiche copies of volumes 
no longer available in print (at present indexes of wills proved at York, 1612-88). Earlier volumes still in print are mostly 
kept to Boydell and Brewer, PO Box 9. Woodbridge, Suffolk, IP12 3DF, to whom enquiries should be made. 

In addition, some sections of the Society produce regular publications, which may also be obtained from the Society. 


THE TERMS OF MEMBESHIP OF THE YORKSHIRE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SOCIETY FOR 2007 ARE: 


Individual members £40.00* 

Family Members £50.00* 

Institutional Members £50.00 

Affiliated Societies £45.00 

Special Associate Members £20.00* 


Subscriptions, which are due in 1st January, should be paid to the Hon. Membership Secretary, 23 Clarendon Road, Leeds, 
LS2 9NZ, or through the subscriber’s banker. Full members are entitled to a copy of the Journal for the current year. 
Subscription payments may be spread through the year. Details are available from Claremont. 

Current subscription rates for the Record Series, Parish Register Series and Wakefield Court Rolls Series and the following 
Sections are available from Claremont, or from the Hon. Secretary of the Section or Series: 

Prehistory Research Section 

Roman Antiquities Section 

Medieval Section 

Industrial History Section 

Family History and Population Studies Section 

Further information about the Yorkshire Archaeological Society can be obtained from the Hon. Secretary at Claremont, or 
from the Society website : http//www.yas. org.uk. 


CONTENTS OF VOLUME 78 

page 

ALL SAINTS CHURCH, BURYTHORPE ARCHAEOLOGICAL EXCAVATIONS 1995 1 

M. R. Stephens 

A YORKSHIRE FORT AND ‘SMALL TOWN’: ROMAN MALTON AND 

NORTON REVIEWED 35 

Pete Wilson 

FLAXTON - THE LAYOUT OF THE ORIGINAL PLANNED SETTLEMENT 61 

David Bourne 

RECENT ARCHAEOLOGICAL WORK IN THE DIOCESES OF RIPON 

AND WAKEFIELD 1991-2000 85 

La wrence Butler 

APPENDIX A: WAKEFIELD CATHEDRAL 

Archaeological Investigations at Wakefield Cathedral 1974 - 1995 
A.C. Swann and I. Roberts with a contribution by D. Tweddle 
APPENDIX B: LITTLE OUSEBURN 
APPENDIX C: GILLING WEST 

THE ROMANESQUE CHANCEL ARCH AT LIVERTON, NORTH RIDING 111 

Rita Wood 

THE END OF MEDIEVAL MONASTICISM IN THE 

NORTH RIDING OF YORKSHIRE 145 

Claire Cross 

‘THE POWER AND INFLUENCE OF GAOLERS’: LIFE AND DEATH IN 

YORK CASTLE GAOL, 1705 - 1745 139 

Philip Woodfine 

DEATH BECOMES HER: THE MOURNING AND COMMEMORATION 

OF ELITE WOMEN IN YORKSHIRE, 1720-1860 177 

Ruth M. Larsen 

AN EPISODE IN THE CAREER OF JOHN HUSTLER. 197 

Peter Holmes 

CURRENTS OF ELECTORAL INDEPENDENCE: JAMES LOWTHER AND 
POPULAR POLITICS IN YORK, c.1865-1880 217 

Matthew Roberts 

NOTE - ST. CHAD’S CELL AT MEANWOOD, LEEDS 241 

La wrence Butler 

OBITUARY 243 

BOOK REVIEWS 247 


ISSN 0084-4276